Thursday, July 2, 1998 Published at 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Elbow grease: the only way to healthy heart
A good sleep won't help you reduce the risk of heart disease
There is bad news for couch potatoes who think they can cut their heart disease risk by avoiding fatty foods.
A study in New England Journal of Medicine finds low-fat diets do not work unless you get off the couch and exercise as well.
The authors of the yearlong study tried various combinations of diet and exercise on 377 men and women who had too much "bad" cholesterol and too little "good" cholesterol.
Nothing seemed able to significantly raise the levels of "good" cholesterol. A low fat-low cholesterol diet brought down the levels of "bad" cholesterol to some degree, but the only significant difference was seen in people in the group using diet combined with vigorous exercise.
"The reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol levels were not significant for either sex without the addition of exercise," said the research team, led by Marcia Stefanick of the Stanford University School of Medicine.
"These findings demonstrate the importance of an exercise programme when diet alone has not adequately reduced LDL cholesterol levels."