Got Bad Cholesterol? Experts Suggest You Sweat It Away - Exercise to Lower Cholesterol

By Monica Wilson on July 13, 2012

People exercise for many reasons. And whatever it is, the result is clear – an improved health. Exercising is among the most effective weight loss solutions which have also been proven to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many other serious health problems.

Exercising and Cholesterol

Researchers have long been trying to understand the cause-effect relationship between exercising and low cholesterol levels. Perhaps, one reason for the confusion is that most studies on cholesterol are focused on both exercise and dietary changes, which makes it hard for experts to identify which is actually affecting cholesterol levels.

Emerging studies suggest that exercise works in two ways to address cholesterol issues. First, exercise stimulates enzymes that help move LDL from the blood (and blood-vessel walls) to the liver. From there, the cholesterol is converted into bile (for digestion) or excreted. So the more you exercise, the more LDL your body expels. Among all types of cholesterol, LDL wears the black hat. An increase in LDL is linked to a wide range of health disorders, particularly heart problems.

Second, exercising increases the size of protein particles that carry cholesterol in the blood. These proteins, when combined with LDLs, result to lipoproteins. Some of these lipoproteins are small while others are thick and fluffy. Smaller particles are considered to be more dangerous because they can get through the blood vessels and into the linings of the heart and cause greater damage.

How much exercise do you need to fight bad cholesterol?

At present, health experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise (moderate to vigorous) every day, such as walking, gardening, and jogging. But for lowering down cholesterol, researchers from the Duke University Medical Centre found that vigorous exercises are more effective. They observed that sedentary individuals who engaged in moderate physical activities reduced their cholesterol levels too but those who had vigorous exercises lower it even more. Aside from this, vigorous exercising increased the HDL (high density lipoprotein), also known as the good cholesterol.

Workout Tips

The manner by which you exercise is also a big factor that affects your cholesterol levels. Experts recommend choosing a form of exercise that can be done in 10 to 20 minutes, using moderate-intensity routines. The NHS advises individuals to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercising which can be distributed in the entire week.

Exercising doesn’t have to be the same old, boring and exhausting workout. You can find an activity you love, like swimming, cycling, walking your dog, dancing, etc. In the report by the Royal College of Physician (RCP), they encouraged doctors to prescribe exercise as part of disease treatment and management. They also recommend medical students to be educated on sport and exercise medicine. As Professor Mark Batt, president of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, a working committee of the RCP puts it, ‘exercise is an effective and cheap prevention and treatment’. Through it, people can enjoy a healthier mind and body.


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