Exercise To Lower Cholesterol

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You may have heard that exercise is one of the best ways to lower your jogging, biking, or gardening.

But a 2002 study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that more intense exercise is actually better than moderate exercise for lowering cholesterol. In a study of overweight, sedentary people who did not change their diet, the researchers found that those who got moderate exercise (the equivalent of 12 miles of walking or jogging per week) did lower their LDL level somewhat. But the people who did more vigorous exercise (the equivalent of 20 miles of jogging a week) lowered it even more.

The people who exercised vigorously also raised their levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) — the “good” kind of lipoprotein that actually helps clear cholesterol from the blood. “We found it requires a good amount of high intensity exercise to significantly change HDL,” saysWilliam Kraus, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke and the lead author on the study. “Just walking is not enough.”

According to Kraus’s findings, however, even though moderate exercise was not as effective in reducing LDL or increasing HDL, it did keep swimming, jogging, or using an exercise machine at low speed).

  • Know that while the intensity may be moderate, the “exercise volume,” which means the amount of time you spend exercising, has to be pretty high. The American Heart Association recommends working up to 30 minutes of physical activity per day, or 60 minutes per day if you’re also trying to lose weight. Remember: you can get your exercise in 10 minutes increments if need be, as long as it adds up to 30 minutes by the end of the day.
  • Find an activity you love, whether it’s walking your dog, playing tag with your kids, swimming laps at a pool, or bicycling through your community. Finding a buddy to exercise with can be helpful, too, both for moral support and to help make exercise more enjoyable.
  • Even better, find several activities you love, so you can vary your routine. This helps you exercise more than one set of muscles, as well as enjoying different work-out environments.
  • Of course, exercise alone won’t guarantee a low cholesterol level. Genetics, weight, age, gender, and diet all contribute to an individual’s cholesterol profile. The most effective way to ensure a healthy cholesterol level is to modify your diet and, if need be, take cholesterol-lowering .

    But exercise has many advantages beyond lowering cholesterol. Exercise has been shown to keep bones strong, reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, stroke, and obesity, and to improve mood. “Even if the improvements in your cholesterol profile are modest, there are many, many other benefits,” says Blumenthal.