The combined effects of aerobic exercise and alcohol restriction on blood pressure and serum lipids: a two-way factorial study in sedentary men

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ObjectivesTo determine whether vigorous exercise and alcohol restriction have additive and independent effects in reducing blood pressure in sedentary male alcohol drinkers. Also to assess whether 4 weeks of vigorous exercise could offset the fall in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-cholesteroI) usually observed after alcohol restriction.DesignSeventy-five sedentary men were randomly assigned to drink low-alcohol beer or continue their normal drinking habits. Within these two groups subjects were further assigned either to a vigorous exercise programme of three 30-min sessions a week of cycling at 60-70% of maximum workload or to a control light-exercise programme.ResultsSeventy-two subjects completed the trial. Alcohol consumption fell by 85% in the low-alcohol group. Fitness increased by 10% following vigorous exercise, with a significant improvement in maximum oxygen uptake. After adjustment for weight loss, a significant effect of alcohol restriction in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure was demonstrated. There was no effect of vigorous exercise on blood pressure. Serum total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B were not influenced by alcohol restriction or vigorous exercise. However, alcohol restriction significantly reduced triglyceride, HDL-cholesteroI, its subfractions HDL2-cholesterol and HDL3-cholesterol, and its major apolipoproteins apo A-l and apo A-ll. These reductions were unaffected by moderate exercise.ConclusionsThis study provides further evidence that alcohol restriction results in reductions in blood pressure in men who are regular alcohol drinkers. However, a simultaneous increase in fitness did not lead to lower blood pressures than those achieved with alcohol restriction alone, and was unable to offset alcohol-related falls in HDL-cholesteroI, its subfractions and its major apolipoproteins.

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