Managing Cholesterol with Exercise
A sufficient weekly volume of
exercise can lower both
cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol and increase HDL-cholesterol (the ''good'' cholesterol).
Exercise itself does not ''burn off'' cholesterol like it can with
tissue. However, when exercise is of sufficient volume, for example, an adequate
duration, it can significantly reduce triglycerides and
stimulate several metabolic enzyme systems in the
liver to convert
some of the cholesterol to a more favorable form, such as HDL-cholesterol. Reducing triglycerides decreases triglyceride-rich particles that are known
to promote the growth of fatty deposits on artery walls.
Exercise is of tremendous benefit when used in combination with either of
the two forms of therapy, namely reduced intake of high-glycemic
trans-fat foods. For those who maintain a frequent and sufficient
level of exercise, it is possible that their physician will reduce their
cholesterol-lowering medication and in some cases stop it altogether.
Regular exercise affects your cholesterol and triglycerides
in two main ways.
Exercise helps lower triglycerides, which at high levels are linked to
coronary artery disease.
Exercise also raises your levels of HDL, or the
Here are guidelines that outline a systematic approach for favorably
altering cholesterol levels with regular exercise:
If you do have a less-than-desirable cholesterol level, or your doctor has
told you have a cholesterol disorder, have your physician establish your
cardiovascular health status before engaging in a vigorous
Your physician may elect to perform additional blood tests (e.g., C-reactive protein) and/or a graded exercise test with an ECG (treadmill stress test) on
Choose dynamic forms of exercise that tend to last at least 20 to 30
minutes and are performed at moderate intensities. Moderate exercise
intensities would be an approximate effort of four to seven, on a scale of one
to ten with ten being near maximal exercise.
In general, for exercise to significantly lower cholesterol levels, a
relatively high volume of exercise is recommended (e.g. 1,500 kcal or more per
week). In 12 to 16 weeks this volume of exercise can reduce total cholesterol
by 10 to 20 percent. Fifteen hundred
calories expended during exercise is
equivalent to about three to four hours per week for the average unfit person
performing moderate intensity
swimming, walk-jogging or
cycling. This volume of weekly exercise is approximately the same volume of physical
activity required to lose weight. As a result, fat weight loss tends to be
associated with increases in HDL-cholesterol and reductions in total
cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels, especially fat lost around the
If you climb on the
set the resistance for 3 and the time for 45 minutes.
A number of studies on
have shown very powerful effects on cholesterol metabolism. Especially if you
do moderate strength training at high frequency -- circuit training with 10
reps each cycle and three cycles of each circuit -- you can get very nice
improvements in your triglycerides and HDL.
A sample program would be to start with walking 20 minutes per day, four days
a week. Over six to eight weeks graduate this program to one hour, six to seven
days a week of walking over hilly (variable) terrain or walk-jogging over
relatively flat ground. An alternative would be to walk 50 to 60 minutes three
days a week and take an
aerobic class three days a week and perhaps two to
three sets of singles tennis on the seventh day.
It is important to know that lower volumes of weekly exercise can still
produce many other benefits, such as improved fitness and overall health,
reduced blood pressure, and increased psychological well being.
WF health experts recommend a combination of three forms of exercise to get
the most health benefit.
Aerobics to get your
heart rate up-Aerobic exercises include: walking, jogging,
jumping rope, bicycling (stationary or outdoor), cross-country skiing,
rowing, high or low-impact
aerobics, swimming and
training to build muscle- moderate strength training at high frequency is
Flexibility exercises like stretching to keep you limber- Stretching the
arms and legs before and after exercising helps prepare the muscles for
activity and helps prevent injury and muscle strain. Regular stretching also
increases your range of motion and flexibility.
Remember, exercise offers your body many more benefits than just cholesterol
Stop exercising and rest if you have any of the following symptoms:
Dizziness or lightheadedness.
gain or swelling.
in your chest, neck, arm, jaw or shoulder or any other symptoms that cause
Call your doctor or seek emergency treatment immediately if these symptoms do
not go away quickly, or if such symptoms continue to recur.
Dated 12 September 2014