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March 26, 1982

High-Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol in Marathon Runners During a 20-Day Road Race

Author Affiliations

From the Human Performance Laboratory, University of California, Davis (Dr Dressendorfer); the Clinical Investigation Unit, Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu (Dr Wade); the Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco (Dr Hornick); and the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Mich (Dr Timmis). Dr Dressendorfer is now with William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Mich. Dr Wade is now with the Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco.

JAMA. 1982;247(12):1715-1717. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320370029024

Plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol and lipid levels were measured in 12 male marathon runners (mean age, 40 years) who ran an average of 28 km/day for ten days, rested 70 hours, then continued to run for eight more days, covering a total distance for both running periods of 500 km. Blood samples were obtained on eight mornings. After one week of running, HDL-cholesterol levels increased 18% and triglyceride levels decreased 22%. However, the three-day rest period reversed these changes. As running resumed, HDL-cholesterol levels again increased and triglyceride levels decreased. There were no significant changes in total cholesterol, body weight, or skinfold thickness despite an average caloric intake of 4,800 kcal/day. Heavy beer drinking had no discernible effect on HDL-cholesterol levels, but may have caused mild hepatic injury as suggested by significantly increased serum alanine transferase and γ-glutamyl transferase values. This study demonstrates that HDL-cholesterol levels increase with higher running mileage and decrease within days of stopping exercise when caloric and alcohol intake remain elevated.

(JAMA 1982;247:1715-1717)