MORGANTOWN, WV -- Weight training can lower cholesterol rates in adults, a study by researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine finds.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 29 studies that included 1,329 participants. Those who lifted weights for at least four weeks had a 3 percent drop in total cholesterol, a 5 percent drop in LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, a.k.a. bad cholesterol) and a 6 percent drop in triglycerides. No significant drops were reported for HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, a.k.a. good cholesterol).

“These results are important for two reasons,” wrote George Kelley, co-researcher on the study. “First, it was previously thought that lifting weights had little, if any, effect on cholesterol levels. Second, we believe that our findings are practically important. For example, the decreases we observed in total cholesterol would be equivalent to a 5 percent decrease in the risk of heart disease.”

The study was supported by a grant from the American Heart Association and appeared in the January issue of Preventative Medicine.