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Managing Cholesterol with Exercise

A sufficient weekly volume of exercise can lower both total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol and increase HDL-cholesterol (the ”good” cholesterol).

Exercise itself does not ”burn off” cholesterol like it can with fat tissue. However, when exercise is of sufficient volume, for example, an adequate weekly frequency and duration, it can significantly reduce triglycerides and stimulate several metabolic enzyme systems in the muscles and liver to convert some of the cholesterol to a more favorable form, such as HDL-cholesterol. Reducing triglycerides decreases triglyceride-rich particles that are known to promote the growth of fatty deposits on artery walls.

Exercise is of tremendous benefit when used in combination with either of the two forms of therapy, namely reduced intake of high-glycemic carbohydrates and trans-fat foods. For those who maintain a frequent and sufficient level of exercise, it is possible that their physician will reduce their cholesterol-lowering medication and in some cases stop it altogether.

Regular exercise affects your cholesterol and triglycerides in two main ways.Exercise helps lower triglycerides, which at high levels are linked to coronary artery disease.Exercise also raises your levels of HDL, or the “good” cholesterol.

Here are guidelines that outline a systematic approach for favorably altering cholesterol levels with regular exercise:

A sample program would be to start with walking 20 minutes per day, four days a week. Over six to eight weeks graduate this program to one hour, six to seven days a week of walking over hilly (variable) terrain or walk-jogging over relatively flat ground. An alternative would be to walk 50 to 60 minutes three days a week and take an aerobic class three days a week and perhaps two to three sets of singles tennis on the seventh day.

It is important to know that lower volumes of weekly exercise can still produce many other benefits, such as improved fitness and overall health, reduced blood pressure, and increased psychological well being.

WF health experts recommend a combination of three forms of exercise to get the most health benefit.

Remember, exercise offers your body many more benefits than just cholesterol control.


Stop exercising and rest if you have any of the following symptoms:

Call your doctor or seek emergency treatment immediately if these symptoms do not go away quickly, or if such symptoms continue to recur.

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