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The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 57:B54-B60 (2002)
© 2002 The Gerontological Society of America

Effects of Endurance Training and Resistance Training on Plasma Lipoprotein Profiles in Elderly Women

Mariane M. Fahlmana, Debra Boardleyb, Charles P. Lambertc and Michael G. Flynnd

a Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
b University of Toledo, Ohio
c University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
d Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana

Mariane M. Fahlman, Wayne State University, Matthaei 262, Detroit, MI 48202 E-mail: m.fahlman{at}

Decision Editor: John A. Faulkner, PhD

It has been shown that high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol are associated with health maintenance in older women, but the few studies that have examined the relationship between exercise and plasma lipoprotein levels in this elderly population have been equivocal. In addition, there are no studies that examine the plasma lipoprotein response of two different types of exercise in a group of active but nonexercising women. Thus, the effects of exercise training on plasma lipoprotein levels in elderly women remain unclear. The purpose of this research was to examine the effects of endurance and resistance exercise on plasma lipoprotein levels in elderly women who were active but nonexercising prior to the study. A total of 45 healthy, active women, aged 70–87 years, were randomly assigned to either an aerobic training (AT, 76 ± 5 years, n = 15), resistance training (RT, 73 ± 3 years, n = 15), or control (C, 74 ± 5 years, n = 15) group. The AT group walked 3 days a week at 70% heart rate reserve. The duration on day 1 was 20 minutes, and it was increased by 5 minutes each day until subjects were walking for 50 minutes (week 3). The exercise training session for the RT group consisted of one to three sets of eight repetitions of eight different exercises at an eight repetition maximum; the C group maintained normal activity. Weight and diet were unchanged across groups. The exercise interventions lasted 10 weeks. Blood samples were obtained from all subjects at week 0 and week 11. Training resulted in a significant decrease in 1-mile walk times and heart rate at completion of the walk for the AT group and a significant increase in eight repetition maximum of all RT exercises. Both AT and RT groups experienced increased HDL cholesterol and decreased triglycerides at week 11 compared with week 0. There were no positive changes in control lipoproteins. Both triglycerides and the total cholesterol to HDL ratio increased significantly while total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol remained unchanged. The RT group also had significantly lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol compared with controls at week 11. Both RT and endurance training resulted in favorable changes to plasma lipoprotein levels for elderly women in only 10 weeks. The fact that this occurred without concurrent changes in weight or diet is an indication that high-intensity exercise alone can be used to modify lipoproteins in populations of healthy elderly women.

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