Up until the COVID pandemic, cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death for both men and women in our country. Exercise, both aerobic and strength training, is an essential component of care for both the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Its’ beneficial effects on our body weight, cholesterol levels, heart rate, blood pressure are well established in the medical research. Another key benefit is exercise’s impact on levels of inflammation throughout the body. In cardiovascular disease inflammation is closely monitored by physicians on C reactive protein tests.
This blood work provides physicians with information on the levels of chronic system wide inflammation in the body. Plaques build in our arterial walls as a combination of cholesterol (LDL), fats, and our immune systems response to high inflammation levels. High levels of inflammation are caused by multiple factors including smoking, diet, and activity level. A recent systematic review summarized the impact of exercise on levels of C reactive protein.
Fedewa and colleagues published their review of the available research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2017). Authors include 83 studies of over 3700 participants whose blood markers were measured before, during, and after an exercise training block. They found a consistent reduction in C reactive protein levels following cardiovascular or aerobic exercise training. Up to 11% of this benefit was attributed to the weight loss found during these exercise trials, while the greatest reductions in inflammation were found among exercisers who also reduced their body mass index.