Cholesterol is a complicated topic. Some foods help, while others make things worse. Some cholesterol is good. Yet, some cholesterol is bad. Keeping a healthy profile can be challenging. That’s where exercise and cholesterol are worth a look.
Most people think of nutrition when considering cholesterol. And, it’s the main strategy when improving cholesterol levels. Some foods can help you lower bad cholesterol. But, exercise is rarely a strong consideration in these programs.
Sure, most people know that an active lifestyle is better. That said, how does it relate to cholesterol? Let’s find out.
Exercise is one of the recommended ways to lower cholesterol
MayoClinic has a list of five ways to lower cholesterol. Among them, we have exercise and cholesterol. Moderate exercise can raise good cholesterol. So, you should aim for about 30 minutes of exercise. At least, you should work out five times per week.
Another option is to take on vigorous aerobic activity. In that case, you can settle for 20 minutes three times per week.
Among the recommendations, most of them are aerobic workouts. You can take a brisk walk, ride a bike, and play sports. We’ll dive into why it’s mostly aerobic in a bit.
Exercise’s link to cholesterol isn’t quite clear. But, WebMD has several theories.
Firstly, exercise prevents you from being overweight. Obesity usually boosts the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood. But, most studies used to focus on workout and diet programs. Instead, recent studies have dived into exercise exclusively.
One theory is that exercise stimulates certain enzymes. These enzymes move bad cholesterol from the blood to the liver. Then, it converts into bile or leaves the body.
Another theory is that exercise increases protein particle size. The smaller particles are more dangerous. They can squeeze into heart linings and blood vessels. So, increasing their size can benefit heart health.
Aerobic exercises vs. strength training reviewed
As we mentioned, aerobic exercise seems to have a stronger effect on cholesterol. High-intensity aerobic exercise is especially useful for reducing bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
Thus, aerobic exercise is much better at improving the lipid profile. It initiates the clearance of plasma LDL and triglycerides. The increase in calorific expenditure also influences good cholesterol levels.
That’s true even when considering strength training. Lifting weights can help you improve your cholesterol. Yet, the benefit appears to come from the movement and repetition. The amount of weight seemingly has a negligible effect.
The best workouts to match exercise and cholesterol
Naturally, brisk walks and jogging are the first recommendations. Just make sure you’re working within your capabilities. Don’t risk hurting your body. Start with easy walks if necessary.
Another upgrade to exercise and cholesterol is cycling. Riding a bike is a great way to move around while staying active. It can help you burn as many calories as jogging. But, it’s less risky for your joints.
Finally, we have swimming. Swimming makes you work your entire body. So, it has an advantage over cycling, walking, and jogging. But, it might be less practical.
Resistance training is still beneficial
With that in mind, strength training isn’t entirely useless. As EverydayHealth explains, resistance training is a recommendation. You should still aim for strength training a couple of times a week.
However, the key here is to increase your repetitions instead of the weight. It’s natural to aim for heavier weights as you get stronger. But, your cholesterol levels benefit more from movement. So, repetitions are the priority.
The holistic takeaway
Exercise and cholesterol share an intimate relationship. But, we’re barely finding out what that means. Further research might be necessary. For now, make sure you’re taking more walks. Aerobic activity is a must to lower cholesterol.
That’s why The Oxidized Cholesterol Strategy combines nutrition and exercise. It’s the best way to tackle the real enemy behind cholesterol.
To learn how it works, check out my review!