In 2005 the USDA and Health and Human Services put out guidelines that included regular exercise as a key to living a lifestyle that provides a healthy heart. The American Heart Association recommends regular exercise not only to maintain body weight and prevent obesity, but because it has been shown that regular physical activity can lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) while raising HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). This means that cholesterol and exercise are closely linked.
As more and more studies and official recommendations are released showing that regular exercise is good for your cholesterol levels, doctors are becoming more aware of how important physical activity is to leading a healthy lifestyle. Doctors are looking beyond prescription medication and even diet to prescribe exercise to help manage cholesterol and to reduce the risk of disease.
A recent study also shows that doctors that are of good physical health are much more likely to consider the importance of exercise and are more willing to provide physical activity counseling to their patients. This study followed 577 medical students for five years and found that 80% of them help physical activity counseling in high regards and will likely incorporate it into their practice.
One of the study authors, Dr. Felipe Lobelo, points out that it is important that not only do doctors accept that exercise can provide benefits such as lower LDL cholesterol levels and lead to a healthy lifestyle, but if they themselves are in good physical shape they are more likely to have their patients follow through with their exercise prescription:
Previous evidence indicates that nearly two-thirds of patients would be more willing to become physically active if their doctors advise it, and these patients find an active, healthy doctor’s advice more credible and motivating. It is critical for current and future doctors to understand the public health importance of providing physical activity counseling to every patient. (HealthDay)
So, what do you think? It is easy to state that cholesterol and exercise are related and that you should incorporate more physical activity in your schedule to lead a healthy lifestyle. But that is easier said than done. If your doctor was clearly in great shape would that make you more likely to take the advice that your doctor would provide in regards to exercise? On the flip side, if your doctor was clearly not in shape, and even overweight, would that make you less likely to follow the advice?