Effect of Exercise Training on Cardiac Biomarkers in At-Risk Populations: A Systematic Review

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Studies have demonstrated beneficial effects of exercise on cardiovascular disease biomarkers for healthy individuals; however, a comprehensive review regarding the effect of exercise on cardiovascular disease biomarkers in at-risk populations is lacking. Methods: A literature search was performed to identify studies meeting the following criteria: randomized controlled study, participants with pathology/activity limitations, biomarker outcome (total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, C-reactive protein, insulin, triglycerides, or glucose), and exercise intervention. Means and standard deviations from each biomarker were used to calculate standardized Cohen’s d effect sizes with 95% confidence intervals. Results: In total, 37 articles were included. The majority (44/57; 77%) of data points demonstrated moderate to strong effects for the reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein, and elevation in high-density lipoprotein following exercise. The majority of data points demonstrated strong effects for reductions in blood glucose (24/30; 80%) and insulin (23/24; 96%) levels following exercise intervention. Conclusion: Evidence is heterogeneous regarding the influence of exercise on cardiovascular disease biomarkers in at-risk patients, which does not allow a definitive conclusion. Favorable effects include reductions in triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, glucose, and insulin, and elevation in high-density lipoprotein following exercise intervention. The strongest evidence indicates that exercise is favorable for the reduction in glucose and cholesterol levels among obese patients, and reduction of insulin regardless of population.

Glenney, Brockemer, Ng, Smolewski, Smolgovskiy, and Lepley are with the Dept of Kinesiology, Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Smolewski is also with the Nola Physical Therapy, New York, NY.

Lepley (adam.lepley@uconn.edu) is corresponding author.
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