High levels of cholesterol are a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Although it can be inherited, the kind of lifestyle we follow plays a major role. A lifestyle change is the healthier option to keep your cholesterol levels at check rather than medications. Exercise helps to control weight, which in turn helps to lower cholesterol levels.
Regular exercise increases the HDL (good cholesterol) levels which prevents fatty deposits from blocking or lining artery walls and moves the fatty deposits to the liver. 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise like walking, cycling and swimming helps lower cholesterol levels
How Exercise Helps
There are several mechanisms involved in the lowering of cholesterol levels. There are certain enzymes that are stimulated by exercise. These enzymes help to move the LDL (bad cholesterol) from the blood stream to the liver. The liver converts the cholesterol to bile which is either digested or excreted. So, more exercise means more disposal of LDL from the body.
Moreover exercise also increases the protein particle (lipoprotein) size that carries the cholesterol through the blood. The dense particles are the LDL and the big, fluffy ones are the HDL. The small dense particles are more dangerous as they can squeeze into the blood vessels and the linings of the heart and set up blocks there. Exercise helps increase the lipoprotein size of both the good and bad cholesterols.
More vigorous exercise is considered better for lowering cholesterol. It raises the levels of HDL, the good type of lipoprotein that helps clear out the cholesterol and also lowers the levels of LDL. According to findings by researchers at Duke University Medical Center, moderate exercise was not as effective in increasing HDL or reducing LDL, but it kept the cholesterol levels from rising. Therefore, some exercise is better than none at all, in fact, we believe the more, the better.
The effects of exercise on cholesterol levels are also a matter of debate. Studies have shown people with the worst diets and exercise routines have benefitted the most. Some people have increased the HDL by 20% and lowered the LDL by 10 – 15%
Getting started with Exercise
It is important to start exercising slowly, if you haven’t already. Your cardiovascular health should be checked by a treadmill test or blood tests to check how your heart responds when you exercise. Once you are cleared to begin exercising, certain guidelines should be followed:
A moderate form of exercise that can be done in 10 – 20 minutes should be chosen such as walking, swimming, cycling or jogging.
Even while doing a moderate exercise, the amount of time spend for exercising should be more. Brisk walking for 10 minutes each time can be done three times.
Doing an activity that you love is a good way to have fun while exercising. It could be walking your dog, playing a sport with children, swimming, or cycling. Finding a friend to do exercise with makes it more interesting.
Of course, exercise alone won’t guarantee a low cholesterol level. Age, weight, genes, gender and diet all contribute to a person’s lipid profile. For further information about exercise routines and personal health management plans, talk to our experts at Fitness19 today.