Exercise To Lower Cholesterol
How Much Exercise Does It Take To Lower Cholesterol?
Exactly how much exercise is needed to lower cholesterol has been a matter
of some debate. In general, most public health organizations recommend, at a
minimum, 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous exercise , such as walking,
jogging, biking, or gardening.
But a 2002 study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that
more intense exercise is actually better than moderate exercise for lowering
cholesterol. In a study of overweight, sedentary people who did not change
their diet, the researchers found that those who got moderate exercise (the
equivalent of 12 miles of walking or jogging per week) did lower their LDL
level somewhat. But the people who did more vigorous exercise (the equivalent
of 20 miles of jogging a week) lowered it even more.
The people who exercised vigorously also raised their levels of high-density
lipoprotein (HDL) -- the "good" kind of lipoprotein that actually helps clear
cholesterol from the blood. "We found it requires a good amount of high
intensity exercise to significantly change HDL," saysWilliam Kraus, MD, an
assistant professor of medicine at Duke and the lead author on the study. "Just
walking is not enough."
According to Kraus's findings, however, even though moderate exercise was
not as effective in reducing LDL or increasing HDL, it did keep
cholesterol levels from rising.
Bottom line? Some exercise is better than none; more exercise is better than
How Much Will It Help?
Just how much of an effect exercise has on cholesterol is also a matter of
debate. "We've found that the people who benefit the most are those who had the
worst diet and exercise habits to begin with," says Roger Blumenthal, MD,
director of the Ciccarone Preventive Cardiology Center at Johns Hopkins
University. "Some of those people reduce their LDL by 10-15% and increase their
HDL by 20%."
If you haven't been exercising regularly already, it's important to start
slowly. Be sure to check in with your doctor, so that he or she can evaluate
your current cardiovascular health. This could mean blood tests or a
treadmill test to see how your heart reacts when you exercise.)