Researchers at the West Virginia University Department of Community Medicine have released a study that shows that lifting weights regularly significantly lower cholesterol, particularly LDLs or low-density lipoproteins ("bad cholesterol"). Triglycerides were also lowered significantly, and no significant change in high-density lipoproteins ("good cholesterol") were found. Experts say that a combination of triglycerides and LDL increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Furthermore, low levels of HDL increase the risk of heart disease.
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 29 studies include 1,329 men and women of varying ages and body weights. The participants had lifted weights for at least four weeks. They reported a decrease of 12 in the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL and a 6 percent drop in non-HDL. These results are important because it was thought that weight lifting had no effect on cholesterol levels, and because although the percentage of change may seem low, the reduction in total cholesterol are equivalent to a reduction in the risk of heart disease. That is, a 5% reduction in total cholesterol means a 5% reduction in the risk of heart disease.
The American Heart Association funded the study, which recommends both aerobic exercise and weight training for improved cardiovascular health.