You’ve probably heard about the dangers of cholesterol, but have you ever wondered how we end up with too much of it? When our bodies need either more energy or insulation, like if we eat too much unhealthy food, they produce more of a certain type of molecule called lipoproteins. When there's too many of these lipid molecules being produced for a long period of time, then they start to form solid chunks that can eventually line the inside walls of your arteries, hence cholesterol build-up.
Having high cholesterol is a serious condition that can lead to some pretty nasty outcomes. As the cholesterol builds up in the blood vessels it narrows them making it harder for blood to move around, eventually leading to heart disease and strokes. Even with no noticeable effects of high cholesterol, you risk developing serious conditions over time as plaque continues to build in your veins.
That's why it's so important to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and watch your diet – all these things can help bring down your cholesterol levels so you can avoid long-term health issues. It can be hard to find time for healthy habits, especially when you’re busy, but building regular physical activity into your routine can really make a difference. So when it comes to lowering cholesterol, what exercises are best? Let’s take a look.
Strength training might appear intimidating at first, but it's an incredibly effective form of exercise – it helps build muscle mass and increase your metabolism. This helps you burn calories more quickly, which can help you shed excess weight that may be contributing to high cholesterol levels. Strength training also boosts your production of good HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol while decreasing bad LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
Whilst you might think you need weights and a gym setup to do strength-building exercises, there is plenty you can do with just your bodyweight. Push-ups and pull-ups are two excellent beginner options, as they don't require any equipment. If you want to make them more challenging, try doing a push-up with a jump at the top or include hand claps in between each rep. One-legged squats and calf raises also provide great lower body strengthening opportunities, while wall sits are also a great option if you're looking for something low intensity.
Aerobic exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate for a sustained period of time. Examples of aerobic activities include running, swimming, biking, and brisk walking. Aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels and raise good HDL cholesterol levels.
The key is getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week. If you have problems with your joints, or want to build up your aerobic capacity slowly, starting with a low-impact exercise such as swimming or cycling can be a good starting point. It can also be motivating to workout with a friend or family member – they’ll help keep you moving when you’re finding the workout challenging.
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates are both excellent forms of exercise for helping to reduce high cholesterol levels. Both classes combine stretching with gentle resistance movements to help tone muscles while reducing stress, which can contribute to better cardiovascular health in the long run. There are several different types of yoga, from slow classes where you hold the pose for a long period of time, to hot, fast-paced yoga. If your schedule allows it, taking a mix of the several different types can be a great way to get a balance between strength and flexibility targeted practice.
Additionally, doing yoga or Pilates regularly can help improve focus and balance while calming your mind. Classes often incorporate an element of mindfulness and meditation, which can help slow the heart rate and decrease stress – all important factors when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle overall.
Exercising regularly can have many positive benefits for your overall health, including helping to lower your cholesterol levels. The key is finding activities that you enjoy doing so that they become part of your regular routine. Strength training, aerobic exercise, yoga and Pilates are all great options for lowering cholesterol levels over time – so why not give them a try today? With regular practice and consistency, you’ll be on the path towards improved cardiovascular health before you know it.