Ah, cholesterol. Although this “waxy, fat-like” component of your bloodstream is one of those words that makes people shiver, some of it is actually necessary so your body can produce healthy cells. But overeating anything is never good, and high cholesterol levels can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. If your cholesterol levels are high, listen up. We spoke with Dr. Mike Ball, MD, MPH, CPH, MWC, ELS, a member of Eat this, not that! Medical Expert Council on Surprising Exercise Habits That Will Help Lower Cholesterol.
Check out these healthy fitness habits below, and then, be sure to read about the 6 best exercises for strong, toned arms in 2022, says trainer.
Why is having high levels of this substance so dangerous? to me Mayo ClinicExcess cholesterol can create fatty deposits in the arteries, impeding the normal flow of blood. If fat deposits break down and manifest, you may suffer a stroke or heart attack.
Although high cholesterol can be genetic, many people develop it as a result of poor lifestyle choices. An unhealthy diet is a big factor, in addition to being overweight. Certain medical conditions can cause cholesterol to increase, including lupus, hypothyroidism, HIV/AIDS, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes (via Mayo Clinic). Surprisingly, some medications taken for high blood pressure, cancer, irregular heartbeat and even acne can negatively affect your cholesterol levels.
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What to do about it? We reached out to Dr. Paul for some expert-backed tips and tricks. First, there are no warning signs of high cholesterol. “The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is to have a blood test,” he explains.
Obviously, it’s important to stay on top of your levels. For adults age 20 and older, cholesterol checks should be done every four to six years, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). This information — along with other factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, whether or not you’re a smoker, genetics, and your age — can give your doctor any indication of your 10-year or lifetime chance of having a stroke or heart attack.
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We asked Dr. Pohl to share some healthy fitness habits that can help lower cholesterol levels. “Often the type of exercise recommended to lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk is aerobic exercise,” Dr. Paul explains. “This can include brisk walking, jogging, running, cycling and swimming,” he adds.
With the nice weather upon us, it is very easy to incorporate some of these fun activities into your weekly routine. Whether you’re recruiting your workout buddy or doing it on your own, stepping up your aerobic game is a must. Plus, it will help break up the day!
You may be surprised to learn about two other types of exercise you can do to positively affect your cholesterol levels. “The first is resistance training, or weight lifting. This can be using free weights, bands, or machines. The second is yoga. Studies show that practicing yoga can reduce LDL, which is known as “bad” cholesterol,” says Pohl. We. He adds that exercise is incredible at increasing your HDL levels, which he explains “known as ‘good’ cholesterol.”
How much exercise is required to keep your levels under control? The American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the appropriate amount that adults should aim for each week. According to Pohl, “general recommendations are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (or a combination of both) per week, plus two or more days of muscle-strengthening exercise per week.”
There are other lifestyle modifications you can make as well. You can maintain a healthy diet and weight, quit smoking, keep your stress level down, and reduce your alcohol consumption (via Mayo Clinic).
Alexa is the deputy editor of Mind + Body at Eat This, Not That!, and she oversees the M+B channel and offers readers compelling topics on fitness, wellness, and self-care. Read more