A computer search was complemented with an extensive hand search of bibliographies of located studies. All controlled trials, studies of trained versus untrained subjects, and reports of habitual physical activity in relation to lipid profile were analyzed and tabulated. The high-risk population was represented by controlled trials that reported relevant data. More convincing evidence for a beneficial effect of physical activity on blood lipids is apparent in cross-sectional studies. The results of longitudinal studies are unimpressive, but the studies are generally lacking in rigor. Empirical dose-response data relating the effects of physical activity to blood lipids in adolescents are nonexistent. Recommendations for an appropriate exercise prescription must therefore be based upon adult data and expert opinion. Emphasis should be placed upon promoting an increase in the amount of adolescents’ habitual physical activity.
Neil Armstrong is with the Physical Education Association Research Centre at the University of Exeter, Exeter, EX1 2LU, United Kingdom. Bruce Simons-Morton is with the Preventive Research Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 6100 Executive Blvd., Room 6B05, Bethesda, MD 20892.