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Am J Physiol. 1998 Mar;274(3 Pt 1):E432-8.

Effects of physical exercise on phospholipid fatty acid composition in skeletal muscle.

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  • 1Department of Geriatrics, Uppsala University, Sweden.


The effects of low-intensity exercise on the fatty acid composition in skeletal muscle and in serum were studied in 19 sedentary, middle-aged Swedish men. During a 10-wk period, all subjects were given a standardized diet with an identical fat composition. After 4 wk on this diet, they were randomly allocated to a daily exercise program (55% peak oxygen uptake) or to continue to live a sedentary life for the remaining 6 wk. Aerobic capacity (submaximal bicycle test) and peripheral insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp) improved with training, whereas the body weight as well as the body composition (underwater weighing and bioimpedance) were unchanged. The proportions of palmitic acid (16:0) and linoleic acid [18:2(n-6)] and the sum of n-6 fatty acids [18:2(n-6), 20:3(n-6), 20:4(n-6)] were decreased in skeletal muscle phospholipids, whereas the proportion of oleic acid [18:1(n-9)] was increased, by training. The fatty acid profile in skeletal muscle triglycerides remained unchanged. We conclude that regular low-intensity exercise influences the fatty acid composition of the phospholipids in skeletal muscle, which hypothetically may contribute to changes of the skeletal muscle membrane fluidity and influence the peripheral insulin sensitivity.

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