Physical Fitness Reduces Metabolic Syndrome Says LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Heli J. Roy  |  7/2/2005 1:27:46 AM

News You Can Use For July 2005

Metabolic syndrome affects a person when a combination of abnormal clinical measurements are detected at the same time. The condition develops less frequently, however, in physically fit individuals, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Heli Roy.

Metabolic syndrome occurs when three or more of the following conditions are present: high fasting (measured 12-14 hours after eating) blood glucose, high plasma triglyceride levels, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, high blood pressure (130/80 or higher) or large waist circumference (more than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women).

"Waist circumference is used as an independent predictor of chronic diseases and is an important and an easy measurement to take," Roy says. It is directly related to the amount of physical activity a person engages in. More physically active individuals have less abdominal fat and a smaller waist circumference.

"Physical activity is beneficial in many ways," Roy says. "It reduces total body fat, particularly abdominal fat, and increases aerobic fitness, thereby improving the cardiovascular system."

A recent study linked fitness and metabolic syndrome. Dr. Claude Bouchard from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and researchers from other institutions studied the relationship between the metabolic syndrome and physical fitness in more than 350 men and women.

Subjects were divided into three groups of low fitness, medium fitness and high fitness based on heart rate during a cycling fitness test. The results showed that higher physical fitness level resulted in lower incidence of the metabolic syndrome.

Those in the low-fitness group had three times the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome than those that were in the high-fitness group. The more physically fit an individual was, the lower the fasting triglyceride levels.

Some differences appeared between men and women. In women, physical fitness was related to insulin levels, but in men, fitness was associated with HDL cholesterol levels.

Roy compares the study results with the new dietary guidelines. "The study results are consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, which recommend increasing regular physical activity to promote health, psychological well-being and a healthy body weight," Roy says.

The guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week. Most people would gain more health benefits with vigorous intensity or longer duration.

For weight reduction, approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week is recommended. Different types of exercise are recommended, including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.

For information on related nutrition, family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site at For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Source: Heli Roy (225) 578-3329, or

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