Cholesterol and its role in our body is not something most people think about regularly, but it should be. High cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States today. Project Swole readers like to exercise, so let’s ask the question, ‘does exercise lower cholesterol?‘
If you want to know how to lower your cholesterol with exercise, here are some great workouts that can help you start dropping those dangerous fats today! Let us know what you think about these suggestions in the comments.
YES, Exercise Lowers Cholesterol!
Fortunately, one of the best ways to lower your cholesterol levels is with exercise, which can also reduce blood pressure and heart rate and increase your endurance level, allowing you to enjoy more activities without getting tired so quickly.
Lowering your cholesterol levels is not just about eating healthily; you can also lower your cholesterol levels with exercise!
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is one of the fatty substances circulating through our bloodstream. When it builds up too much, it attaches to the walls of our arteries and narrows them, increasing the risk for heart disease.
It is not just the amount of cholesterol in our blood that determines how much we risk; other factors are involved.
One of these is the protein that carries cholesterol throughout the body. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are more likely to cause problems, whereas high-density lipoproteins (HDL) protect us from cholesterol buildup.
When people talk about lowering their cholesterol levels, they refer to LDL cholesterol. Around 38% of adults in the United States suffer from high LDL cholesterol.
Which Exercises Help in Lowering My Cholesterol?
Regular exercise does wonders for a person physically and mentally. It increases stamina, clears up skin, makes you feel better about yourself, and reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol in your body – which is especially helpful if you are at risk for cardiovascular disease or stroke. For each of the activities on this list, let’s look at the straight facts and studies about does exercise lower cholesterol.
- Running or Jogging
If you enjoy running, then you are lucky! Running is excellent for reducing cholesterol levels and managing weight – keep it at an easy jog instead of a fast sprint. A 2013 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that long-distance runners experienced greater HDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure improvements than short-distance runners.
- Brisk Walk
Every day, brisk walks have been found to have myriad health benefits. In one study, people who walked for 1 hour a day on 5 days of the week saw a reduction in the amount of LDL cholesterol in their bodies. Walking regularly and briskly is easy to stay healthy and maintain fitness – it may even be easier than running!
A 2013 review compared walking with running. It stated that as long as the same amount of energy was expended while performing either exercise, moderate walking, or vigorous running would reduce the risk of various heart-related issues by approximately the same.
Cycling uses about the same energy as jogging, but cycling is much easier on the joints than running. This can be an important factor for those who experience joint problems because the hips and knees are at risk for arthritis.
For this reason alone, it might be wise to start cycling instead of running because everyone needs to care for their body. Biking to work has been proven to have many health benefits. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that cyclists are less likely to suffer from high cholesterol levels than commuters.
- Resistance Training
So far, we have been discussing mostly aerobic exercise. This type of workout is often prescribed for those seeking protection from heart disease. Cardiovascular health can also be protected through resistance training.
A study in BMC Public Health revealed that those who combined resistance and aerobic exercises lost more weight and fat than those who only did one, increasing cardiorespiratory fitness. This is encouraging to us because resistance training is our favorite activity on this shortlist, and without a doubt, this type of exercise lowers cholesterol.
While we have already discussed aerobic exercises and lifting weights, it might seem strange for Yoga to appear on the list. But some studies show that Yoga can reduce one’s risk of developing heart disease – even reducing cholesterol levels sometimes.
A recent study review published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that those who regularly practice yoga show improvements in LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and blood pressure over people who do not exercise.
How Long Should I Work Out to Reduce My Cholesterol?
According to the American Heart Association, 150 minutes (about 2 and a half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week is enough to lower cholesterol and reduce high blood pressure.
Exercise can also help raise HDL (good) cholesterol—a 2013 study showed that walking for an hour a day on five days out of seven for twenty-four weeks raised HDL cholesterol levels in the body.
Another 2015 study found that regular, intense strength training three times a week over ten weeks raised good cholesterol even higher than just walking alone could do before it plateaued. Other benefits include:
- Stable mental health
- Improved body weight
- Reducing Fatigue
- Building Muscles and more
When asking yourself, ‘does exercise lower cholesterol?‘, you can now firmly answer: all of these exercises help reduce cholesterol and protect yourself from cardiovascular disease. You can choose the best for you based on your overall health, joint health, and lifestyle.
There are other options, as well. For example, if you play tennis or dance regularly, you are likely to expend the same energy as someone who walks briskly or runs.
It does not matter how much time it takes – the important thing is that you get in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily with resistance training two times a week.
Then keep doing more throughout your day when you can – even if it is just getting up from your chair while reading emails. If you are getting back into exercise, starting slow is best.
Make sure to consult with your physician first so that they can assess how well your cardiovascular system is functioning now.