According to a new study, just 30 minutes of moderate exercise can significantly improve cholesterol levels and decrease cardiovascular risk in menopausal women.
The research of over 8,700 middle-aged men and women provides race- and gender- specific data on the cholesterol effects of physical activity, with the interesting result that women, particularly African-American women, experience greater benefits as a result of exercise than men.
Lead researcher Keri Monda and colleagues at North Carolina and Baylor found that over a 12 year period, all individuals who increased their exercise by about 180 metabolic units per week (equivalent to an additional hour of mild or 30 minutes of moderate activity per week) displayed decreased levels of triglycerides and increased levels of the "good" HDL cholesterol.
However, statistically significant decreases in the "bad" LDL cholesterol were only observed in women, with particularly strong effects in menopausal women and African-American women.
In addition, total cholesterol levels were only significantly decreased in African-American women.
The authors believe that these novel differences may arise from hormonal differences between the sexes, especially considering the extra effects seen post-menopause.
While the racial differences observed may stem from genetic variations that require further exploration.
The study appears in the Journal of Lipid Research.