Lower cholesterol with these 6 exercises

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Lower cholesterol with these 6 exercises

Smart food choices are an effective strategy for lowering high blood cholesterol but did you know exercise is another effective strategy for improving cholesterol too?  Increasing exercise to naturally bring down high cholesterol numbers just makes sense.  The good thing about becoming more physically active is how it provides many other benefits as well such as improving heart health, enhancing your immune system, increasing bone density, reduces obesity, and improves mood and overall outlook on life.

Why exercise is key for lowering cholesterol

Even though cholesterol has a bad reputation, your body actually requires it.  Cholesterol is necessary to build the structure of cell membranes, to make testosterone and adrenal hormones, for efficiency of your metabolism and is essential to help you produce vitamin D.

The majority of cholesterol circulating in your blood is what your body has made.  But if you have more cholesterol than what is healthy, excess amounts of it can stick to the inside walls of your arteries, narrowing them, and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

One type of cholesterol likely to cause problem is low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.  LDL cholesterol contributes to fatty buildups in arteries also known as atherosclerosis.  High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is another form of cholesterol that protects your body from unhealthy cholesterol buildup by removing harmful bad cholesterol from where it doesn’t belong, thus helping to lower heart disease risk.

Regular exercise helps to raise the “good” or HDL cholesterol improving your cholesterol numbers overall.  A study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology found that regular exercise increased HDL cholesterol levels in men with undesirable belly fat.  A 2002 study found that exercise improved the number and size of the particles carry cholesterol through the body.  Those who exercised had larger, ‘fluffier” particles that were less likely to clog arteries.  The Journal of Obesity also found that even for overweight and obese adults, engaging in walking, jogging or cycling while eating a cholesterol-lowering diet improved total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. 

6 exercises best for improving cholesterol numbers

Use exercise or physical activity to your advantage for lowering cholesterol simply by incorporating more activity into your day – it all adds up.  Make good exercise decisions such as using the stairs, standing and walking around while talking on the phone, or do jumping jacks every time a commercial on TV comes on.

Researchers recommend being physically active at least 30 minutes a day.  Any type of exercise is better than none but here are 6 exercises that have been shown to be most effective in achieving better cholesterol numbers:

1.      Take a jog

If able, jogging can be one of the best moves not only for weight loss but also for getting your cholesterol numbers in a healthy range.  In a 2013 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, long-distance runners showed significantly better improvements in HDL cholesterol levels along with better improvements in their blood pressure. 

2.     Go for a brisk walk

Taking a brisk walk is one of the most effective exercise move to make for lowering blood cholesterol.  Walking is especially good for older adults who want to remain active but need an exercise easy on the joints.  Science also agrees as a 2013 study in the journal of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology compared thousands of runners to an equal number of walkers and found that it didn’t matter whether a person ran or walked for reducing cholesterol.  People, who exerted the same level of energy when exercising, experienced similar benefits whether they walked or ran. 

3.      Hop on your bicycle

Whether for fun, or as a transportation mode to get to work, bicycling not only protects your joints but also reduces the risk of heart disease.  Researchers recommend biking to work as the Journal of the American Heart Association found that those who hopped on a bike were less likely to develop high cholesterol than those who didn’t. 

4.      Swim some laps

Jumping into a pool is not only a refreshing activity but also improves body weight, body fat distribution and LDL cholesterol levels, according to a 2010 study that compared walking with swimming in women aged 50 to 70 years. 

5.     Pump iron

You may not think lifting weights or resistance training would be effective for lowering cholesterol but think again.  A study published in the journal Atherosclerosis found those who participated in resistance training were able to clear LDL cholesterol from their bloodstream faster than those who didn’t.  The best bet is to combine resistance training with aerobic exercise which not only helps people to lose more weight but also increases cardiovascular fitness.  Even older people are encouraged to try weight lifting.  A study in The Journals of Gerontology found that women aged 70-87 had significantly lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels compared to women who didn’t. 

6.      Strike a pose yoga-style

Yoga may be last on your list as a means of lowering cholesterol but studies show it can be used to help significantly reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol while improving heart healthy HDL cholesterol.