Skip to content

Fitness & Exercise

Exercise Beneficial for Overall Cholesterol Numbers

Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Aman Shah, MD

Aug. 23, 2000 -- Losing fat was never simple. Unfortunately, it only becomes more complicated as we hear terms like 'HDL,' 'cholesterol,' 'LDL,' 'VLDL,' 'triglycerides,' and so on -- some of them good, some bad, and some ugly. Adding to the confusion, your doctor now gives you not just a cholesterol "number" but also numbers for these other compounds, and often one number is normal while another is high. So, what effect does exercising have on each of these components of fat metabolism?

A leading expert on physical fitness and its relationship to fat metabolism has summarized the scientific knowledge on this in the current issue of the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal. According to this review, the following is a guide to the effects of each component on heart disease and whether exercise will be beneficial to the component in question:

Compound

Relation to heart disease

Effect of exercise

LDL

Strongly causative

May reduce

HDL

Strong protector

Increases

Cholesterol

Strongly causative

Little or no change

Triglycerides

Somewhat causative

Reduces

VLDL

Somewhat causative

Reduces

Chylomicrons

Causative

Little or no change

Cholesterol and triglycerides are essential for health, but could lead to hardening of the arteries if higher than normal, says lead author Larry Durstine, PhD, professor and chair of exercise science at University of South Carolina, in Columbia. "Fortunately, many studies have shown that exercise helps return blood lipids to their normal range," he tells WebMD.

 

With aerobic training, triglycerides decrease 10-30%, and HDL increases 2-8 points, Durstine tells WebMD. "Weight training hasn't been shown to improve blood profiles but does help prevent falls and offset osteoporosis. So, if you're at risk for heart disease, consider these guidelines in starting an exercise program," he suggests.

  • Include exercise like walking, running, cycling, or swimming
  • Train moderately for 30 minutes, five days a week
  • Work toward burning 1,000 or more kilocalories a week
  • Supplement your routine with weight or resistance training

 

But, how do you get from where you are to where you should be? "Above all else, find a routine that you can stick with," says Paul Cacolice, ATC, CSCS, a clinical athletic trainer in Enfield, Conn. "Then talk with a personal trainer about making steady fitness gains over time."

  • Set short-term goals for the next two weeks, like longer sessions
  • Set long-term goals for the next six months, like burning more calories
  • Work out hard, but remain able to carry on a conversation
  • Increase your routine gradually, by about 3-5% a week

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

pilates instructor
15 moves that get results.
woman stretching before exercise
How and when to do it.
 
couple working out
Moves you can do at home.
woman exercising
Strengthen your core with these moves.
 
man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
woman walking
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article