Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were eligible for inclusion.
Specific interventions included in the review
Studies that evaluated aerobic exercise with a non-exercise control for 4 weeks or longer were eligible. Exercise programmes included the Canadian Air Force 5BX plan, cycle ergometry, stationary wheelchair ergometry, walking or non-specific aerobic exercise. The programmes ranged from 8 to 72 weeks, and were conducted 2 to 5 times a week for a duration of 20 to 60 minutes.
Participants included in the review
Adults aged 18 years or older and diagnosed with CVD were eligible for inclusion. The majority of studies included only men. The mean age of the participants ranged from 50 to 67 years, and the mean body mass index was 25 kg/m2. Participants included those who had experienced myocardial infarction, intermittent claudication, or who had undergone coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery. In 4 studies the participants were also taking medication that could affect lipid metabolism. In 8 studies the participants smoked, and in 6 studies some of the participants had type 1 and/or type 2 diabetes. Three studies included participants who were overweight and/or obese.
Outcomes assessed in the review
Studies that evaluated pre- and post-total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and/or triglycerides (TG) were eligible for inclusion. The secondary outcomes were body weight, body mass index and maximum oxygen consumption.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
Two authors independently selected the studies. A third author examined the reference list and any discrepancies were resolved by consensus.