The Best Exercise Routines for People With High Cholesterol

Women Doing Aerobic Exercise
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Exercise that accommodates any pre-existing conditions and is appropriate for your fitness level can lower cholesterol and promote overall health. In conjunction with a healthy diet, you can lower your total cholesterol by an average of 10 percent and possibly avoid taking medication to control your condition.

Risks of High Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, you want to lower it because it increases your risk of developing heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

To reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol without medication, you need to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and stop smoking.

What Type of Exercise Works Best at Lowering Cholesterol?

There are a lot of exercise programs out there, and most types of exercise routines, ranging from walking to running to yoga, appear to have the same impact when it comes to lowering triglycerides and raising HDL (”good” cholesterol).

To lower  LDL (“bad” cholesterol), you must combine exercise with a healthy diet and weight loss.

Clinical studies on aerobic exercises, such as jogging, running, and aerobics are the most common. The results show aerobic exercises appear to benefit cholesterol the most, by lowering LDL by 5 to 10% and raising HDL cholesterol by 3 to 6%.

Water exercises, such as swimming, water walking, and participating in water games, can also produce similar results in your cholesterol profile as aerobic exercise.

Even if you are not an avid jogger or haven’t been active in a while, you can enjoy many other ways to exercise that may lower cholesterol. For instance, studies show that walking, yoga, and tai chi can lower cholesterol. However, these studies are few in comparison to studies looking at aerobic exercise.

How to Start Exercising If You're Sedentary and Overweight

If you've been leading a sedentary lifestyle and/or are overweight, you should contact your healthcare professional to help you create an exercise program that progressively works up to a caloric energy expenditure of about 1,000 calories per week.

The intensity of your workout should be at a low or moderate level until your aerobic endurance increases. Start out exercising in intervals of 10 to 15 minutes and build up to 30 minutes over time.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Current research shows that in order to achieve lower cholesterol levels, you must get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Ideally, you should exercise at least 60 to 90 minutes per week, with an optimum goal of 200 minutes per week.

If you are too busy to fit a 30-minute time period into your schedule, not to worry: Studies show that if you divide this time up into intervals throughout the day (for instance, two 15 minute exercise sessions), you will receive the same health benefits from the exercise. However, the interval needs to be at least 10 minutes long for cardiovascular benefits.

Although aerobic exercise appears to provide the most cholesterol-lowering benefits, it is important to note that any type of physical activity will help lower your cholesterol, help you lose weight and promote heart health.

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