Do you take statins to lower your cholesterol? A new study published by The Journal of American College of Cardiology suggests that statins, the cholesterol-lowering medications, may block some of the benefits of exercise.

Researchers from the University of Missouri and other institutions recruited a group of overweight, sedentary men and women, all of who had symptoms of metabolic issues such as wide waistlines, high blood pressure or excess abdominal fat. Most had slightly elevated cholesterol levels. None exercised regularly over the past year.

All the participants underwent muscle biopsies and treadmill testing to determine their aerobic fitness, and agreed to continue their normal diet. They began a 12-week exercise program, which included visiting the university lab five times a week and walking or jogging on a treadmill for 45 minutes. Half the group began taking a daily 40-milligram dose of simvastatin, a type of statin sold under the name Zocor.

At the end of 12 weeks, the participants’ fitness and muscles were retested. The results? The unmedicated volunteers improved their fitness by more than 10% on average. But the volunteers taking statins barely improved by 1%, and some possessed less aerobic capacity than before.

Due to cellular changes, the volunteers taking statins, “were not getting the same bang from their exercise buck” as the other exercisers, says John P. Thyfault, a professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri and senior author of the study.

Because many people who take statins already have low aerobic fitness, the affects of the drug are a concern. However, no one is recommending you throw out the statins. Dr. Thyfault suggests that people could get in shape and raise their fitness levels before taking the drug, but that is something to discuss with your doctor.  “There’s still a great deal we don’t understand” about how statins and exercise mix, he says.

At 1513 Anti-Aging & Weight Loss, we understand how your overall health and wellness can affect your ability to get in shape –that’s why we always perform a thorough examination and discuss your medical history before beginning any weight loss program.