Does Exercise Lower Cholesterol Levels?

After being diagnosed with high cholesterol you will most likely look for lifestyle changes that you can implement in order to take control of your cholesterol levels.  While medication is an fast and easy fix, it comes with a high price . . . side effects.  It is best to manage your LDLs (bad cholesterol) and HDLs (good cholesterol) without first taking statin drugs.  So, before you start working on adding an exercise routine to your schedule you probably are asking one important question, “does exercise lower cholesterol levels”?

Does Exercise Lower Cholesterol Levels?

Does Exercise Lower Cholesterol Levels?

Overwhelmingly, the answer to that question is “Yes!”  It has been found that regular aerobic exercise does help reduce cholesterol.  Most important, regular exercise has been found to reduce LDLs and increase HDLs while lowering your total cholesterol.  While there is no strong conclusion as to why exercise helps to reduce cholesterol, but the evidence does prove that it works.

One important link that has been made is that as weight increases the cholesterol levels rise.  Not only that, but weight gain is hard on the human body.  With added weight, there is added tissue which needs more oxygen.  The oxygen is carried in the blood so more blood is needed.  This added blood stresses out the heart, leading to higher blood pressure.  As we all grow older it is normal for weight gain to occur.  Therefore, it is just as important to ward off any weight gain as it is to try to lose extra weight.  Making some lifestyle changes to include a little exercise in your routine will help prevent this weight gain.

The exercise we are talking about here does not have to be rigorous training.  Simple walks of at least 30 minutes just a couple times a week are enough to make an effect.  Walk briskly enough so that your heart rate increases, but you do not have to worry about jogging or running.  Of course, the more work you do the better the results, but this is simply a case of “a little goes a long way”.

The added benefits of aerobic exercise is that it will not only help control your cholesterol, but it will help prevent heart attacks in the future for several different reasons:

How exercise reduces heart attack risk

  • As discussed above, aerobic exercise reduces cholesterol.
  • Reduces your risk of high blood pressure.
  • Lowers triglycerides.
  • Provides weight control.
  • Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle.

Besides all of the reasons why regular exercise helps to reduce heart attack risk, there is a much longer list of other health benefits, including an improved immune system, stronger bones, reduced cancer risk, reduced risk of diabetes and many more.

Starting and maintaining an exercise routing is very difficult.  We are all used to our routine, that often includes a lot of TV, internet, eating, and other activities that provide excuses for why we should not get out and exercise.  Therefore, here are some tips to help you start and keep and exercise routine:

How to start and keep an exercise routine

  • Create a definite schedule for when you will exercise.  Start with just 2-3 days per week.  Do not change this schedule or let anything get in the way.
  • Reward yourself when you finish a week of successfully completing your scheduled exercise.
  • Make it a routine to take a walk around the neighborhood right after dinner.  Walking with your family members or spouse will make the time fly by and it won’t seem like exercise at all.  Remember that brisk walking is all the exercise you need to make a change.
  • Keep your walking shoes near the front door.  Trying to find a lost pair of shoes will be just another excuse to not get out there walking.
  • Wear a pedometer throughout your day.  This can turn into a game where you try to beat your previous high “score”.
  • Find a workout buddy.  Having someone counting on you to be a partner for a walk or workout will often be all the motivation you need to show up.

Does exercise lower cholesterol levels?  Yes!  It is very clear that this is a fact.  The important thing now is to just get out there and start exercising.