Metabolic syndrome is a collection of health risks that increase an individual’s chances of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. These health risks include excessive fat tissue in the abdominal area, glucose intolerance, unhealthy cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Metabolic syndrome is closely associated with insulin resistance. Also known as “syndrome X,” the condition is often seen in seniors and those who are overweight. Although the underlying cause is still unknown, the results of a new study indicate that exercise training may prove an effective treatment strategy.
As part of the HERITAGE Family Study, 621 sedentary (but apparently healthy) participants were screened for metabolic syndrome, defined in the study as having three or more of the risk factors identified in the National Cholesterol Education Program: elevated waist circumferences; high blood pressure; high triglyceride and blood glucose levels; and low HDL cholesterol levels. Presence of these risk factors was assessed before and after a 20-week, supervised aerobic exercise training program.
Of the 105 participants identified as having the condition at baseline, 30.5 percent (32 participants) were no longer classified as having the syndrome after the training. There were no gender or race differences in the efficacy of the training in terms of treating the syndrome.
The researchers concluded that “aerobic exercise training in patients with the metabolic syndrome can be useful as a treatment strategy and provides support for a role for physical activity in the prevention of the chronic disease.”