Effects of Exercise on Lipoprotein Particles in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

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Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) commonly have insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with marked abnormalities of lipoprotein size and subclass particle concentration. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a moderate-intensity exercise program without weight loss on lipoprotein profiles in women with PCOS.


Thirty-seven sedentary PCOS women were randomized to either an 8- to 12-wk ramp-up followed by a 12-wk moderate-intensity exercise program (16-24 wk total, ∼228 min·wk−1 at 40-60% peak V˙O2, n = 21) or control (no change in lifestyle, n = 16). PCOS was defined as ≤8 menses per year and hyperandrogenism (biochemical or clinical with Ferriman-Gallwey score ≥8). Fasting lipoprotein profiles were obtained before and after the intervention. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to quantify the following: average particle size, total and subclass concentrations of HDL, LDL, and VLDL particles, and calculated HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and VLDL triglycerides. Wilcoxon exact rank sums tests were used to compare changes in these parameters in the exercise group relative to controls.


Twenty women (8 exercisers, 12 controls) completed the study. Comparing exercisers to controls, significant changes were seen in concentrations of the following lipoprotein parameters that are associated with decreased insulin resistance: decreased large VLDL (P = 0.007), calculated triglycerides (P = 0.003), VLDL triglycerides (P = 0.003), and medium/small HDL (P = 0.031) and increased large HDL (P = 0.002) and average HDL size (P = 0.001).


In this trial, moderate-intensity exercise without significant weight loss improved several components of the lipoprotein profiles of women with PCOS. These findings support the beneficial role of moderate exercise in this high-risk population.

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