Your doctor may have mentioned exercise to you when you were first diagnosed with high cholesterol. Aside from improving your diet, one of the most effective lifestyle changes you can make to help you lose weight naturally is to exercise. “I hate running,” you might have thought. Perhaps you enjoy running but have recently been sidelined due to an injury. Perhaps you enjoy jogging but despise the treadmill. There is no doubt that it is an effective aerobic exercise, but there are several other good options that can help counteract the negative effects of high cholesterol on your health.
While both aerobic and strength-training exercises have been shown to benefit cardiovascular health, studies indicate that a combination is best. A 2012 study published in the journal BMC Public Health discovered that combining cardio and resistance exercises resulted in greater benefits for weight loss, fat loss, and cardiorespiratory fitness than either cardio or resistance exercises alone.
Cholesterol is one of the fatty substances found in our blood. When we have too much, it can adhere to the inner walls of our arteries, narrowing them and increasing our risk of cardiovascular disease.
However, it is not only the amount of cholesterol in our blood that influences our risk. Other factors come into play. One of these is the protein that transports cholesterol throughout the body. LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) is more likely to cause problems. HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol protects the body from cholesterol buildup.
- Go for a nice jog or run.
If your joints are in good shape and you enjoy jogging, you’re in luck because this is an excellent exercise for lowering cholesterol and weight management. But don’t think you have to race. A few miles of easy jogging may be better for lowering cholesterol than a fast sprint around the block.
- Ride your bike to work or just for fun.
Cycling uses roughly the same amount of energy as jogging, but it is gentler on your joints. That is crucial for many people as they age. Hips and knees are particularly vulnerable to arthritis, and we must all keep an eye out for them. If you’re experiencing pain in these joints, cycling may be a better option than running.
- Take a quick walk.
The question of whether walking is as good as running for cardiovascular health has long been debated. Walking is often a much better exercise for protecting joint health, especially as we get older. People who exercised with the same amount of energy, whether walking or running, saw similar results. The advantages included a lower risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Water Exercises and Swimming
Water exercises, such as swimming, water walking, and water games, can produce similar results in your cholesterol profile as other aerobic exercises while also being gentle on your joints.
- Lifting Weights
Lifting weights or performing other resistance exercises—for example, using resistance bands or even your own body weight—can be beneficial on their own, but they are especially beneficial when combined with aerobic exercise.
If you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle and/or are overweight, talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program that gradually builds up to a caloric energy expenditure of about 1,000 calories per week. Your workout should be low to moderate in intensity until your aerobic endurance improves. Begin with 10- to 15-minute intervals and gradually increase to 30 minutes. Gradually increase the amount and intensity over time.