When was the last time you exercised and tested your cholesterol levels? Did you know that even regular light aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up can contribute significantly difference in lipid levels, says livestrong.com
According to a meta-analysis of 11 studies published in 2018 in the journal BioMed Research International, after 8 to 24 weeks of low- or moderate-intensity exercise for 30 to 40 minutes a day, study participants had more low levels of LDL cholesterol, as well as lower LDL subfractions, which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
In order to improve our cholesterol levels, as well as reduce our blood pressure and overall risk of heart attack and stroke, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
Simplified this account is about 20 minutes of exercise every day or 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Not hard to achieve, right? Scientists believe that we can combine moderate with intense training if it helps us keep our sports schedule easier.
Examples of moderate physical activity are brisk walking, water aerobics, cycling, dancing, fitness.
And those with a more intense load are running, tennis, Zumba, jumping rope, fast riding on an ergometer, swimming laps and others.
How does physical activity help lower cholesterol?
For a long time, experts weren't quite sure how exercise would contribute to improving cholesterol values, as most studies looked at various lifestyle changes. These include weight loss, a he althy diet, and staying active.
But research in recent years has led scientists to believe that the main effects of regular physical activity are to raise levels of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). This is of utmost importance because this type of cholesterol acts as a sort of "broom" to remove "bad" LDL cholesterol from the walls of your blood vessels and eliminate it from the body.
When people exercise for 40 minutes three to four times a week, their HDL cholesterol levels can increase significantly within eight weeks, scientists believe.
Stress is also one of the factors that can cause bad cholesterol levels to rise. On the other hand, regular physical activity helps reduce stress levels.
Last but not least, we should not forget that apart from sports, our diet is also the basis of maintaining he althy levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.