How Does Exercise Lower Cholesterol?
High cholesterol levels in the blood can lead to hypercholesterolemia, which heightens the risk of coronary heart disease. Health experts frequently emphasize that maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is crucial for those battling high cholesterol. But the question remains, how does exercise lower cholesterol?
The Cholesterol In Your Body
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance pivotal for the creation of cell membranes, hormones, and vitamin D. The sources of blood cholesterol are twofold: your diet and production by the liver.
Lipoproteins, the spherical particles responsible for transporting cholesterol and other lipids through your bloodstream, primarily come in two forms: Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
The Good and Bad Cholesterol
How does exercise lower cholesterol? HDL, commonly known as good cholesterol, removes cholesterol from the bloodstream. On the other hand, LDL, often termed the "bad" cholesterol, can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis), resulting in an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
If your cholesterol is high mainly due to elevated LDL levels, you're at a heightened risk of heart disease or stroke. Keeping your LDL levels below 70 mg/dl can reduce these risks. However, if a high HDL level is the only reason for elevated total cholesterol, your risk isn't necessarily increased. An ideal HDL level is around 50 mg/dl.
How Does Exercise Lower Cholesterol?
Exercise increases HDL production.
So, how does exercise lower cholesterol? By boosting HDL production. Merely exercising an hour per week can considerably increase your HDL. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly to effectively manage cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
One of the best exercises to lower cholesterol is consistent aerobic activity. Regular exercise can prevent LDL from accumulating and causing artery blockages. Simple actions like walking for 30 minutes five days a week can make a significant difference in your HDL levels. Other best exercises to lower cholesterol include running, swimming, or biking.".
Exercise strengthens your muscles.
Exercise plays a crucial role in strengthening muscles. The best exercise to lower cholesterol, such as weight training, aids in maintaining muscle strength and reducing the risk of injuries. Muscle mass loss, a common concern as we age, can be counteracted by exercising regularly.
Exercise supports weight reduction.
One significant way how exercise lowers cholesterol is through supporting weight reduction. Studies have shown that consistent physical activity is linked to decreased cholesterol levels, largely attributed to the resulting weight loss. In fact, for every kilogram (approximately 2.2 pounds) lost, a person's LDL ("bad") cholesterol decreases by about 0.8 milligrams per deciliter.
Exercise boosts the immune system.
Another avenue through which exercise lowers cholesterol is by enhancing the immune system. Engaging in physical activity regularly boosts the immune system, subsequently having a favorable influence on cholesterol levels. For optimum immune-enhancing benefits, a session lasting 60 minutes or less at a moderate to vigorous intensity is recommended. Practicing this consistently will bring cumulative advantages to both your immune and metabolic systems.
Exercises To Reduce and Manage Cholesterol Levels
One of the best exercises to lower cholesterol is cycling. Elevating your activity level on a bike can significantly reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels. Research from the Journal of the American Heart Association has shown that individuals who commute to work via bicycle have considerably lower chances of high cholesterol, indicating how cycling can notably diminish the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Brisk walking is another excellent exercise that answers the question: how does exercise lower cholesterol? In a particular study, participants who committed to walking for an hour five days a week saw reductions in their LDL cholesterol levels.
Running is also among the best exercises to lower cholesterol. Regular running aids individuals in staying fit, shedding excess weight, and uplifting mental health. Any running duration is linked with a 27% decrease in overall death risk. Running longer distances is especially effective in reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
Resistance training, often termed weight training, is a technique designed to build muscle by making the muscles contract against an external resistance. Standard routines under resistance training encompass pushups, stomach crunches, weightlifting activities like chest presses, deadlifts, curls, and squats.
A 2014 review disclosed that premenopausal women who took part in guided resistance training witnessed a decline in both their total and LDL cholesterol levels over 14 weeks. This regime, one of the best exercises to lower cholesterol, was carried out three times a week, lasting forty to fifty minutes each session.
How Does Exercise Lower Cholesterol and Improve Your Health?
To understand how does exercise lower cholesterol, one can consider alternating between less-intense and more-intense workout sessions. If you've been inactive for a while, it's wise to ease back with moderate activity, perhaps 15 minutes daily to start.
Maintaining your motivation for consistent exercise involves several strategies:
Set Achievable Goals. Expecting quick results like significant weight loss or a swift decrease in cholesterol can lead to disappointment and abandonment of the program.
Engage with a Community. Sharing the experience of working out amplifies motivation. Loved ones, as well as fitness apps, provide opportunities to connect with those who have similar physical activity goals.
Prioritize Physical Activity. Even if gym visits are impractical due to time constraints or poor weather, exercises can be done at home. This flexibility addresses the question of the best exercise to lower cholesterol by making it tailored to individual circumstances.
Other Vital Lifestyle Adjustments
While understanding how does exercise lower cholesterol is crucial, other lifestyle modifications further assist in raising HDL levels:
Maintain a healthy weight.
Consume foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like olive oil, nuts, and omega-3-rich seafood.
Limit alcohol consumption to 3-5 drinks weekly.
Ensure adequate, quality sleep.
In-Depth: How Does Exercise Lower Cholesterol
Consistent physical activity can significantly lower cholesterol and enhance overall health. It's essential to note that not every exercise type offers the same benefit. Exploring various activities will help pinpoint the best exercise to lower cholesterol tailored to your preference. Whether it's walking, running, cycling, or weight training, numerous methods can be integrated into daily routines to combat high cholesterol levels.
What is cholesterol and why is it important in our body?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance essential for the formation of cell membranes, hormones, and vitamin D. It is sourced from both our diet and production by the liver.
What are LDL and HDL?
LDL (Low-density lipoproteins) and HDL (high-density lipoproteins) are lipoproteins responsible for transporting cholesterol and other lipids through the bloodstream. HDL is known as the "good" cholesterol, removing cholesterol from the bloodstream, while LDL, often termed as the "bad" cholesterol, can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries.
How does exercise lower cholesterol?
Exercise lowers cholesterol primarily by boosting HDL production. Engaging in activities like walking, running, or cycling regularly can prevent LDL from accumulating and causing artery blockages. Additionally, exercise strengthens muscles, supports weight reduction, and boosts the immune system, all of which can have favorable effects on cholesterol levels.
What are the best exercises to lower cholesterol?
Some of the best exercises to lower cholesterol include cycling, brisk walking, running, and resistance training. Activities like these help in elevating HDL levels and reducing LDL cholesterol.
How often should one exercise to manage cholesterol?
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly to effectively manage cholesterol and blood pressure levels. However, even simpler actions like walking for 30 minutes five days a week can make a significant difference.
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