You must have heard that having high cholesterol levels is not good for your health! Experts say high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death globally. While there are several factors that lead to high cholesterol, including an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, chronic stress, smoking, tobacco consumption and obesity. The key is to make some lifestyle changes as they help you keep your cholesterol levels in check. Exercise is one way to keep your cholesterol levels in check, so we had to check with a doctor.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Bhupendra Verma, Interventional Cardiologist, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, to know the exercises that can help reduce cholesterol.
How does exercise help reduce cholesterol?
We have fatty compounds like cholesterol flowing in our blood. When we have too much of them, it can adhere to the inner lining of our arteries, causing them to constrict and raising our risk of cardiovascular disease. A study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, found that physically active women had lower levels of cholesterol levels than women who didn’t get any exercise.
Dr Verma says exercise is one of the best ways to reduce cholesterol levels. However, you must combine regular physical activity with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes.
Exercises to reduce cholesterol levels
Here are some exercises that the expert recommends you do to reduce cholesterol levels:
1. Aerobic exercises
Engaging in aerobic exercises can help reduce cholesterol levels. A study published in the journal Sports Medicine found that aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, or cardio can be effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Dr Verma recommends that you do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week.
2. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
HIIT includes alternating between short bursts of intense exercise with small recovery periods. A study published in the journal BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine found that HIIT can help reduce cholesterol levels. This type of training has been shown to improve cholesterol levels and cardiovascular fitness. However, it may not be suitable for everyone, so it’s essential to consult with a doctor before starting HIIT.
3. Resistance training
Incorporating resistance or strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or using resistance bands, into your routine can be beneficial for reducing cholesterol levels. Building muscle mass helps increase metabolism and improve overall lipid profiles, explains the expert. The Sports Medicine study found that resistance or strength training can keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Yoga is a holistic practice that has been proven beneficial for overall health, including cholesterol levels. Several studies have also found that yoga can be beneficial for maintaining LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. Certain yoga poses, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques can help you reduce stress, which is one of the risk factors for high cholesterol levels.
5. Regular physical activity
Apart from specific exercises, engaging in any form of regular physical activity can contribute to lowering cholesterol levels. This can include activities like gardening, housework, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The key is to stay active throughout the day and avoid prolonged periods of sitting, says Dr Verma.
High cholesterol levels can put you at risk of cardiovascular disease, which can increase mortality risk. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading factors that can cause your cholesterol levels to shoot up. It is important to note that while exercise plays a significant role in reducing cholesterol, it should be complemented by other lifestyle modifications.
Making some dietary changes, quitting smoking, managing stress, and potentially prescribing cholesterol-lowering medications, depending on the individual’s risk factors and overall health. Therefore, it’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised recommendations based on your specific needs and medical history. Check with your doctor to know what work best for you.