How Can I Lower My Cholesterol By Making Lifestyle Changes
You can lower your cholesterol levels by making lifestyle changes, and through taking medicines if that’s what your doctor advises. Some people will only need to improve their lifestyle and diet to get their cholesterol to a safe level. Others may need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines, as well.
Why Exercise Is The Secret Weapon To Lower Cholesterol
The fact that exercise has many health benefits beyond weight loss may not surprise you. But its impact on lowering high cholesterol just might.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells in your body. There are two kinds of cholesterol in the blood: LDL considered is the bad cholesterol, which can build up and clog your blood vessels, and HDL is thought of as the good cholesterol, which helps clear the LDL from your arteries.
High cholesterol occurs when there is too much bad fat in the blood. Ideally, your LDL number should be less than 130. The good stuff, HDL, should be 60 or higher. Your total cholesterol number should be less than 200. Triglycerides, another measure of fat in the blood, should be less than 150.
High cholesterol can be treated with medication, but not everybody with elevated cholesterol levels needs meds, especially off the bat. You can definitely lower your cholesterol without medicationthats for sure, says Paul Knoepflmacher, MD, a clinical instructor in medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Not everybody is successful, but certainly with diet changes, with losing weight, with exercise, it is possible to lower your cholesterol.
How Exercise Helps Lower High Cholesterol
Lifestyle Tweaks for Lower Cholesterol
Organized Sports And Other Activities
Other sports and activities can also be beneficial for lowering cholesterol and improving general health.
The main factors to consider are how much energy the body uses up doing the sport or activity and how often a person engages in it.
The following sports and activities can help:
state that adults should undertake a certain amount of exercise each week to stay healthy. However, they point out that 1 in 4 adults around the world do not meet the global recommended levels of physical activity.
The WHO recommend that adults aim for one of the following:
- at least 150300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity per week
- at least 75150 minutes of more vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity each week
- an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous physical activity throughout the week
Tracking the heart rate during exercise can help a person reach their fitness or weight loss goals. Heart rate is a good indicator of how much effort a person is putting in when exercising.
The AHA recommend that people reach 5085% of their maximum heart rate when exercising.
They explain that a person can calculate their maximum heart rate by subtracting their age from 220 to give them a value in beats per minute .
For example, a 30-year-old would subtract 30 from 220, giving them a maximum heart rate of about 190 bpm.
Scientists measure cholesterol in milligrams per deciliter .
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How Forward Can Help You Lower Your Cholesterol And Heart Disease Risk
As your primary care provider, Forward helps you maintain optimal health and manage diseases and conditions through a holistic approach to healthcare. Membership includes full access to features like our doctor-led healthy heart program, which includes genetic and blood testing, a range of risk assessments, and a personalized plan for reducing your risk factors for heart diseaseincluding high cholesterol. Goal-setting, ongoing health marker monitoring, and assessments help you keep track of your progress, and our member app provides 24/7 access to your care team, your test and assessment results, and your overall progress.
Take A Few Laps At The Pool
Swimming is probably the most joint-saving aerobic exercise you can do. In a 2010 study, researchers compared swimming with walking in women aged 50 to 70 years. They found that swimming improved body weight, body fat distribution, and LDL cholesterol levels better than walking did.
Researchers also looked at the beneficial effects of swimming in men in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education. They found that swimmers had 53 percent, 50 percent, and 49 percent lower risk of dying from any cause than did men who were sedentary, walkers, or runners, respectively.
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Why Exercise Is Effective At Lowering Cholesterol
Cholesterol is one of the fatty substances we have circulating in our blood. If we have too much, it can stick to the inside walls of our arteries, narrowing them and increasing risk of cardiovascular disease.
Its not only the amount of cholesterol in the blood that affects our risk, though. Other factors play a part. One of these is the type of protein that carries the cholesterol through the body. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is more likely to cause problems. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol protects the body from cholesterol buildup.
Exercise helps increase levels of HDL good cholesterol. Researchers reported on this in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology found similar results. In men with belly fat, regular endurance exercise increased HDL good cholesterol levels.
Exercise may even change the nature of our cholesterol. In 2002, researchers from Duke University Medical Center found that exercise improved the number and size of the particles carrying cholesterol through the body. Those who exercised more had larger, fluffier particles that were less likely to clog arteries.
Exercise can help you lower cholesterol numbers even if youre overweight. In the Journal of Obesity, researchers reported that overweight and obese adults who walked, jogged, and cycled while eating a cholesterol-lowering diet improved total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
How Does Exercise Affect Cholesterol Levels
There are many things which make it difficult to assess how exercise alone affects cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol levels are lower in persons with high aerobic fitness but it is not conclusively demonstrated that exercise training is the sole reason for total cholesterol reduction. Activities that are more vigorous in nature, such as running programs seem to have more benefit. There are studies that show high intensity training increases HDL levels, which are responsible for taking bad cholesterol away from cells. The most important though is that exercise can reduce body fat and a decrease of body fat is a contributing factor for lowering triglycerides.
Cholesterol has both good cholesterol, HDL, and bad cholesterol, LDL. Exercise, particularly walking, has been shown to help decrease your LDL, and increase your HDL. That result is very promising and with the ease and convenience of walking, you are sure to benefit and achieve results you want.
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How To Lower Your Cholesterol With Exercise
High cholesterol is an important risk factor for heart disease. Since high cholesterol doesnt have any symptoms, the only way to know your cholesterol levels is to have a cholesterol screening, also called a lipid panel. Understanding cholesterolincluding your bad LDL, good HDL, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levelsis the first step to taking control of your cholesterol. The second step is to make lifestyle changes that can lower your cholesterol so that you dont need to go on cholesterol medication.
The most important lifestyle changes for lowering your cholesterol are eating a heart-healthy diet, reducing your stress, and starting an exercise regimen. Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, increases good HDL cholesterol and improves your total cholesterol levels. Higher-intensity cardio exercise lowers bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Strength training, also known as resistance training, or lifting weights, improves muscle strength and body composition. Heres a look at the basics around lowering your cholesterol through exercise, including how it works, how much you need, and how you can get more of it.
Whats The Best Exercise To Reduce Cholesterol
If you’re worried that you’ll need to engage in one specific type of exercise to lower your cholesterol, don’t worry. “A lifestyle with regular physical activity is more important than one particular exercise,” Dr. Virani says. That means you can pretty much do what you enjoy, be it:
And there are many other choices according to the AHA. You should aim to find something that you enjoy and can fit into your life regularly.
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Does Exercise Burn Off Cholesterol
Exercise doesnt exactly burn excess cholesterol like it burns fat. According to a literature review in the journal Sports Medicine, scientists arent yet clear on why exercise lowers cholesterol, but they believe that it may improve the bodys ability to utilize fats rather than carbs for energy, effectively lowering the levels of fats, including cholesterol, in the blood.
Strength training is also very effective for lowering cholesterol, especially for people who cant do cardio exercise due to mobility issues. A 2019 study found that people who lifted weights for a total of one hour per week, but didnt engage in any cardiovascular activity, enjoyed a 40 to 70 percent lower risk for heart attack or stroke than those who didnt lift. Resistance training, like cardio, may lower cholesterol levels because it causes the muscles to burn fat. Both types of exercise also help you reduce your body mass index, or BMI, another important risk factor for high cholesterol and heart disease.
Although your overarching goal for exercising is to lower your cholesterol, regular exercise also leads to weight loss, healthier hair and skin, better mental health, and improved overall health.
Managing Cholesterol With Exercise
So, does exercise lower cholesterol? Research shows that exercise and cholesterol are related, but again, the biggest factor in making a dent in triglycerides is being more conscious with food choices.
Make sure your exercise efforts are being complemented by a diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats to enhance the effects of exercise to lower cholesterol naturally.
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Best Drinks To Lower Cholesterol
In this following list, were looking at some of the drinks that contain certain compounds such as antioxidants that may effectively reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Only having at least one of the following drinks each day can positively impact your cholesterol level and your overall health in a positive way!
What Is Cholesterol Exactly
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance produced by the liver and also found in some of the foods we eat. Its present in every cell in the body and helps make hormones and vitamin D as well as build cells.
There are three types of cholesterol you need to know about:
Then youve got triglycerides, which are a type of fat that comes from sugar as well fatty foods such as butter and oil. Triglycerides technically arent a type of cholesterol, but theyre usually measured at the same time, and theyre also involved in your risk of heart disease.
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How To Get Started On An Exercise Plan To Lower Cholesterol
Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if your high cholesterol is putting you at more immediate risk for heart disease or stroke, says Dr. Cho.
If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness during exercise, stop immediately. Dr. Cho adds more general tips for getting started:
- Start slow. If you are new to an exercise program, start with a short amount of time, and slowly increase. Low and slow, all the way. Start with a 15-minute exercise, then build up to at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. The optimal goal is to achieve approximately 200 minutes per week of exercise, Dr. Cho says.
- Stay hydrated. Drink water when you are thirsty, and remember that in hot or humid conditions you may need to drink even more water to maintain hydration.
- Stay comfortable. Wear sneakers or flat shoes with laces that have good support.
- Stay on top of it. Make exercise a regular part of your healthy lifestyle, and try to exercise at the same time each day so it becomes a habit.
- Stay motivated. Ask family and friends to join you to help keep you motivated and healthy. This also can help them to start or continue their own journey to a healthy lifestyle.
The great thing about exercise is that it doesnt always have to be the same, says Dr. Cho. Change it up, keep it exciting and know that in good time, your hard work will pay off in the form of lower cholesterol.
Does Coffee Raise Cholesterol
While coffee does not contain cholesterol, it can affect cholesterol levels. The diterpenes in coffee suppress the bodys production of substances involved in cholesterol breakdown, which causes cholesterol to increase. Specifically, coffee diterpenes may cause an increase in total cholesterol and LDL levels.
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How Long Does It Take Cholesterol To Go Down
People who need to use medications such as statins to lower their cholesterol should see their cholesterol levels fall quickly. These medications may work in a matter of weeks, and they generally work to a larger degree than lifestyle changes.
However, because diet affects the levels of cholesterol in the body, doctors commonly recommend that people make changes to their diet and lifestyle in addition to taking medications.
Making simple changes to the diet and lifestyle can help reduce cholesterol. These changes vary depending on how strictly a person adheres to their diet. Other factors, such as exercise and reaching a moderate body weight, also play a role.
Some dietary changes may cause minor reductions in cholesterol in as little as
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that the liver produces. In the body, cholesterol plays a roll in cell function and the breakdown of some types of fatty acids. The body can create all the cholesterol it needs.
Regularly eating these foods adds more cholesterol to the body and raises the levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Additionally, some fats and oils may stimulate the liver to make more cholesterol, potentially increasing the levels even more.
Dietary and lifestyle changes and medications can all help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Putting Together A Low Cholesterol Diet
When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.
A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber soy protein and whole almonds.
Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.
Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.
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What Causes High Cholesterol
Having high cholesterol levels simply means there is too much of the waxy substance in your blood, which puts your heart at risk.
Its easy to assume that high cholesterol is an older persons disease, but the reality is more and more folks are developing it in their 20s and 30s especially if they have risk factors such as being overweight, says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, a cardiologist in New York City and spokesperson for the American Heart Association.
More than 12 percent of adults over the age of 20 have high cholesterol, defined as levels greater than 240 mg/dL, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Aside from a genetic condition that leads to high cholesterol levels , lifestyle factors play a significant role in those high numbers. The good news is that, in many cases, high cholesterol levels can be lowered by making a few changes to your daily habits.
The Mechanisms Of The Effects Of Aerobic Exercise On Lipids
Although the mechanism of exercise-induced lipid changes is unclear, exercise itself may increase blood lipid consumption hence to decrease lipids levels . Mechanisms may involve the increased activity of lipoprotein lipase – lipoprotein lipase responsible for chylomicrons and VLDL TAG hydrolysis in granules . Most of the catalytically active LPL is located in the vessel wall and then isolated from the endothelium surface and released in the blood after intravenous injection of heparin . Therefore, the detected LPL is often the post-heparin LPL. Ferguson et al. reported that heavy or prolonged aerobic exercise episodes could significantly increase post-heparin plasma LPL activity, thus promoted LPL-mediated TG hydrolysis. However, with several findings showing that pre-heparin LPL concentration indicate the amount of systemic LPL activity , Tanaka et al. turned the target to pre-heparin LPL, and found that 12 weeks of jogging training increased pre-heparin LPL concentrations in overweight men . Exercise-induced LPL changes were time-delayed, for example, LPL mRNA peak level occurred at 4 h after exercise . Besides, LPL activation elevation could last for 24 h after only a 1 h exercise session in individuals with moderate intensity exercise .
Summary of the potential mechanisms through which exercise improves the lipid profile is in Fig. .
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