Training, diet and physical characteristics of distance runners with low or high concentrations of high density lipoprotein cholesterol

Stanley P. Sady, Eileen M. Cullinane, Peter N. Herbert, Mark A. Kantor, Paul D. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We examined possible determinants of serum high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) concentrations in 56 male distance runners (aged 20-56 years) by comparing runners whose HDL-C were either above or below the group median of 63 ± 13 (± SD) mg/dl. HDL-C averaged 53 ± 7 mg/dl for runners below and 73 ± 11 mg/dl for runners above the median. Neither exercise training (miles run per week, years of running), physical characteristics (height, weight, adiposity), or dietary factors (total daily caloric intake and daily caloric intake from protein, fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, carbohydrate, and alcohol) differed between the two groups (P>0.05, MANOVA). Apo A-1 (P < 0.01) was higher and triglyceride concentrations lower (P = 0.07) in the high HDL-C group. The data were also analyzed by comparing runners in the lowest and highest tertiles for HDL-C values and essentially the same results were obtained. When all runners were combined, neither training, physical characteristics nor dietary intake was significantly related to HDL-C (P>0.05). Total cholesterol and apo A-1 were directly related (r = 0.35 and r = 0.66, respectively, P < 0.01) and triglycerides inversely related (r = -0.31, P < 0.05) to HDL-C. Plasma post-heparin lipoprotein lipase activity (LPLA), hepatic triglyceride lipase activity (HTGLA), and HDL-C subfractions were measured in 22 runners. LPLA was inversely related to triglyceride concentration (r = -0.46, P < 0.01) and directly related to HDL-C (r = 0.54, P < 0.01) and HDL2-C (r = 0.60, P < 0.01). In contrast, HTGLA was inversely related to HDL-C (r = -0.36, P = 0.10) and HDLZ-C (r = -0.39, P = 0.07). These data suggest that factors other than exercise training, diet and physical characteristics account for differences in HDL-C among distance runners, and that factors regulating HDL-C may do so by influencing tissue lipase activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • Diet
  • Distance runners
  • High density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • Physical characteristics
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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