Dose Effect of Cardiorespiratory Exercise on Metabolic Syndrome in Postmenopausal Women

      As an ancillary report to a large National Institutes of Health (NIH)–funded trial, we examined the effects of 6 months of exercise training at 50%, 100%, and 150% of the NIH Consensus Recommendations for physical activity (i.e., 4, 8, and 12 kcal/kg of energy expenditure/wk [KKW]) versus a nonexercise control group on the metabolic syndrome (MS) in sedentary, overweight, moderately hypertensive, postmenopausal women. We examined the clinically defined National Cholesterol Education Program MS, individual components scores, and summed z-scores, expressed as a continuous variable (zMS), using chi-square and general linear models to assess the clinical and progressive nature of MS, respectively. Our results showed significant improvements in zMS for all exercise groups and MS for the 8- and 12 KKW groups only (all, p for trend = 0.02). Post hoc analyses showed that 12 KKW for zMS and 8 and 12 KKW for MS was significant versus the control group (all, p <0.05). When examining the composite scores, we observed significant trends for improvement in waist circumference (p for trend = 0.001), fasting glucose (p for trend = 0.01), and systolic blood pressure (p for trend = 0.02), which appeared to be dose dependent, given the additive nature for incorporating the within-group improvements in waist circumference (4, 8, and 12 KKW), fasting glucose (8 and 12 KKW), and systolic blood pressure (12 KKW). Our results suggest that low-to-moderate intensity cardiorespiratory exercise appears to improve components of the MS in postmenopausal women at levels at or greater than NIH recommendations and that zMS improves at half the NIH recommendations. Greater levels of energy expenditure appear to enhance this effect by incorporating a greater number of requisite MS composite scores.
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