Will Exercise Really Lower Triglycerides?

Medically Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on September 04, 2023
2 min read

Exercise can help you lower unhealthy triglyceride levels.

Start with 20-30 minutes of aerobic activity -- anything that gets your heart rate up. Do that 5 days a week, and your overall numbers may drop while your good cholesterol will rise. The best part? You reap the benefits of exercise even if you don’t lose weight.

Aerobic activity ("cardio") offers the best results. Find things you enjoy, and have a backup plan for those days when your first choice isn’t possible. If you haven’t been active in a long time, check with your doctor first. Choose any of these:

  • Basketball
  • Bicycling
  • Elliptical
  • Jogging at a steady pace
  • Jumping rope
  • Kickboxing
  • Racquetball
  • Soccer
  • Spinning
  • Step aerobics
  • Stair climbing (traditionally or on a machine)
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Walking briskly
  • Zumba

While working with weights hasn’t been shown to lower triglycerides, it can still boost the results of aerobic exercise. Stronger muscles burn more calories all day, not just after a workout. And burning calories results in weight loss, which lowers triglycerides.

If you’ve never lifted weights, learn proper form from a professional so you don’t hurt yourself.

Don't stress if it’s hard to get in a 30-minute workout every day.

"You don't necessarily have to set aside a period of time when you put on your jogging shoes and sweatpants and go running," says Robert Bonow, MD, former president of the American Heart Association. "You can just be active throughout the day."

Start gradually. Squeeze in 10 minutes of exercise, and build up to several times a day. Here are a few ways to add some activity into your schedule:

  • Stand up and pace whenever you talk on the phone or while you watch TV.
  • Challenge yourself to keep adding in steps until you get up to 10,000 steps a day. Wear a pedometer all day to track your steps.
  • Find an app for your smartphone that offers a 10-minute workout.

Once you get your exercise routine down, improve results even more with a healthy diet. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, and enjoy better health.