By Dr. Robert Weiss

The old message for many years was to get some exercise.

Researchers are now studying this even more. The new study suggests that even moderate exercise can have a good cardiovascular effect on cholesterol levels.

The latest finding is that a light workout will not lower the LDL (dangerous form of cholesterol) and only rigorous exercise can elevate the HDL levels (good form of cholesterol that prevents heart attacks).

It is now being found that more interest is being placed on the physical structure of cholesterol in the blood stream. The cholesterol in the blood moves through the body by attaching to protein particles. The cholesterol seems more likely to clog the arteries when it is carried by small, dense protein particles then when moved by much larger ones.

The importance of this study shows that people who exercise more moderately develop the larger particles, although their total cholesterol stays the same. Therefore, the overall findings were that perhaps walking or jogging 12 miles per week were the same. However, jogging 20 miles resulted in a more pronounced change.

The new testing of measuring protein-particle size is more commonly performed in larger medical complexes and might very well become standard place and more widely used.

Jogging is simple, requires no special skills and can be enjoyed at any age. From a physiological standpoint, it is an excellent form of exercise, as it puts a moderate amount of stress on the cardiovascular system. However, anyone over the age of 40 should consult with his or her medical doctor prior to starting an exercise program and be sure to wear good foot gear.

Dr. Robert Weiss, a sports podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and the 1988 Olympic Trials. Weiss, a veteran of 30 marathons, is a Fairfield native, and has a practice in Darien.