Exercise Helps To Lower Cholesterol-10 Key Things To Know

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Cholesterol

Cholesterol helps our body to make new cells, hormones, and vitamins. It also helps to digest some fat-containing foods. But if the level of cholesterol is high then the person may have many health issues such as heart strokes and heart attacks. By doing regular exercise and physical activity you can lose weight as well as the cholesterol level is reduced. It also plays a significant role in proper blood circulation.

Cholesterol is of two types bad and good cholesterol, and it is very important to maintain enough balance of both types of cholesterol, if anyone’s level is high or low, it will cause many diseases and other problems which is related to the health of the individual. Cholesterol is also the main reason behind many other health-related issues, some are already listed above.

One very essential among them is the diseases related to the heart. As we know the heart is the organ which directly involves in the blood supply. It supplies oxygen and blood from the heart to different parts of the body, and it also carries back the deoxygenated blood from different parts of the body like the brain, liver, and kidney. So it is necessary that it will function properly which is only possible when you follow a healthy lifestyle.

What Are Good and Bad Cholesterol?

Good cholesterol is High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), it helps your body to eliminate the excess level of cholesterol, and it does not get collected in your arteries. The HDL cholesterol is known as high density because it is so dense. It is used to provide stability in each and every cell of the body. When the cholesterol travels through the bloodstream, it needs some helper molecules for transportation and these helper molecules are known as Lipoproteins.

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Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Bad cholesterol is LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein), it gets collected in your arteries and makes a wall of LDL cholesterol in your blood vessels and this build-up wall is known as Plaque. As the wall goes on the increasing deposition in the blood vessels, the vessels become narrow. If the vessels became narrow then it will block the blood flow from the heart to different organs and as the blood flow is blocked it causes many heart-related diseases.

The last component of cholesterol is Triglyceride which acts as unused calories. These triglycerides are stored in the blood in the form of fat. If you intake more calories than the number of calories you burn, then it will increase the triglyceride levels in your blood. For making your heart healthy then you have to take only the calories that will burn in a day otherwise it will increase the risk factors.

The Link Between Exercise And Cholesterol

LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are the combination of cholesterol with the protein particles which carries them through blood. According to several types of research, exercise helps in weight loss and maintaining the body weight because if a person is overweight then the amount of LDL will increase in the blood and that causes several heart diseases. It is not necessary that you do vigorous exercise but by doing moderate exercise you can reduce your high cholesterol level.

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Photo by Mariana Medvedeva on Unsplash

Mechanism: How Exercise Lowers Cholesterol

The mechanism which was found by researchers is :

Exercise first activates and triggers the enzymes which will help LDL to move from the blood to the liver. Then, the digestion process starts there the cholesterol is converted into bile and then the excretion process starts. The more you do exercise the more amount of LDL is converted into bile and then excreted.

There are protein particles that carry good or bad cholesterol through the blood. There are small and dense protein particles as well as big and fluffy. The small and dense protein particles are dangerous as they squeeze the blood vessels and linings of the heart, ultimately causing many cardiovascular diseases. Exercise helps to increase the size of the protein particles so that they can carry both good and bad cholesterol to the liver.

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Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Various Exercise Program To Lower Cholesterol

Walking

Regular walking for 1 hour a day at a brisk pace offers many health benefits. It will reduce the amount of LDL within a week. It is a type of moderate-intensity exercise.

Running

Regular running gives us a lot of health benefits. It will reduce LDL cholesterol levels in your body as well as maintain body weight. It is a type of vigorous exercise.

There was a study done on walking versus running named as national runners health study which was done on 8,000 runners to find out the beneficial effects of running and vigorous-intensity exercise. The peer-reviewed studies say that running and other vigorous exercises provide different benefits to the body and aerobic exercise provides some other benefits.

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Photo by Fitsum Admasu on Unsplash

Cycling

It is another way of lowering cholesterol levels in the body. It was observed that the people who do regular cycling have less likely to have LDL cholesterol levels.

Resistance training

It is another exercise program which is also known as weight training or strength training. It increases muscle strength. Resistance training exercises are push-ups, free weights, sandbags, and weight lifting. This training will lower cholesterol levels as well as cardiovascular risk.

National Runner Health Study

The study was done on over 8000 runners. The study observed that the runners who are faster have lower blood pressure. But, for good cholesterol distance is more important than quickness.

According to Dr. Parul Williams, different exercises have specific heart disease risk factors. She presented her observation in AHA in New Orleans on the occasion of the 69th Scientific sessions. Her study involved 1837 female and 8290 male recreational runners. She medically reviewed all the runners by collecting the medical data of the runners from their physicians and she also collected the data of the recent 10 kilometers race and running mileage of each runner. Then she observed that the runners who ran fast have low triglycerides levels, body mass index, and blood pressure.

How Many Exercises To Do

According to WHO, you have to make a particular exercise routine. Adults have to do:

  • At least 150-300 minutes of moderate and aerobic exercise in a week.

  • At least 75-150 minutes of vigorous and aerobic exercise in a week.

  • An equivalent combination of exercise both moderate and vigorous also helps in reducing cholesterol.

Optimum Cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is measured in mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter). The optimum level of total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dl. The optimum level of LDL cholesterol is 100 mg/dl and the optimum level of HDL cholesterol is 60 mg/dl.

If the cholesterol levels are not within the range the person should be medically reviewed because they are suffering from some health problems. The doctor will recommend performing physical activity and exercising regularly to reduce cholesterol levels.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is directly related to heart health. cardiovascular diseases are heart diseases such as heart failure, peripheral artery disease, hypertension, and stroke. The persons who are suffering from cardiovascular diseases mostly also suffer from high blood pressure and dyslipidemia. Cardiovascular diseases are directly linked with obesity which is a complex disease that affects the body’s metabolism. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes mellitus.

There are some benefits of exercise with respect to cardiovascular diseases such as decreasing circulations of lipid concentrations and improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. It also improves increasing HDL cholesterol levels as well as improves myocardial perfusion. These diseases are also caused due to strong genetic and family history of this disease. These diseases are reduced by taking some primary prevention.

According to WHO, 75% of premature cardiovascular diseases are preventable by reducing the risk factors. In England, these diseases cause a 34% of death rate and around 40% in the European Union.

There are several types of heart diseases but the common type is coronary artery disease which mainly affects the blood flow to the heart. As if the blood flow is decreased it may cause heart attacks.

Symptoms Of Heart Diseases

There are various heart diseases that are silent they are not diagnosed until the person feels some signs or symptoms of heart failure, heart attack, or arrhythmia. Symptoms of these types of diseases are:

  • Heart failure: The person will feel shortening of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the neck veins, legs, ankles, and abdomen.

  • Heart attack: The person will feel body discomfort, nausea, chest pain, vomiting, shortness of breath, and heartburn.

  • Arrhythmia: The person will feel a heart-fluttering or a fast-beating heart.

Risk Factors For Heart Diseases

  • High Blood Pressure is a crucial risk factor for heart diseases. If the blood pressure is not controlled then it directly affects your heart. It happens the pressure of blood is too high in your arteries and blood vessels. It is also known as the silent killer as it does not have any signs or symptoms.

  • Unhealthy blood cholesterol level is another important factor that causes heart disease as the cholesterol is waxy. Our liver makes sufficient amounts of cholesterol needed by our body. But we get extra cholesterol from the food we eat. Then the extra cholesterol is deposited on the walls of arteries and blood vessels hence it narrows the arteries and blood vessels because of that the blood flow is reduced from the heart to the brain, liver, kidney, and all other body parts. There are no signs and symptoms of high cholesterol levels.

  • Diabetes mellitus causes the sugar level in the blood.

  • Obesity is a high level of body fat. It is directly linked to increased LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels and reduces the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It ultimately leads to high pressure of blood.

Behavioral Risk Factors

  • If a person is eating food that contains a high amount of trans fat, saturated fat, and high cholesterol.

  • Not doing regular physical activity.

  • Consumption of too much alcohol.

  • The frequent use of tobacco, smoking cigarettes, nicotine.

Some Dietary Changes for Cholesterol-lowering

It is very important to have a proper diet along with exercise and resistance training to maintain the level of total cholesterol. A healthy lifestyle always pays you to maintain your body as well as weight.

According to several types of research, there are two different types of unhealthy fats- they are Saturated fats and Trans fats which will increase the LDL cholesterol level and reduce the level of HDL cholesterol.

Saturated fats: These are the fats that remain solid or waxy at room temperature and they are generally found in tropical oils and animal products. Some examples of saturated fats are hot dogs and full-fat dairy products.

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Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash

Trans Fats: These are the facts formed by changing the liquid fat into a solid fat and this process is known as Hydrogenation. The hydrogenated fats are used in the products to increase their shelf life and for better consistency. They increase the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood and reduce the level of HDL cholesterol. It is also a reason behind the deposition of belly fat. Some examples of trans fat foods are fried foods, frozen pizza, and doughnuts.

A healthy lifestyle includes eating healthy foods i.e. eating unsaturated or healthy fat. There are two types of unsaturated or healthy fat- Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats. Their main source is plant-based foods and they usually remain liquid at room temperature.

Some examples of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, and almond butter. Some examples of polyunsaturated fats are flax oil and seeds, sunflower oil, walnuts, and fish.

Include a particular amount of fat in your diet for healthy living. The optimum amount of dietary fiber is 25-25 gm per day. Some good sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, grain, and legumes.

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Photo by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash

American Heart Association

It is a non-profit organization that runs in the US. The purpose of this organization is to fund cardiovascular medical research. They also spread awareness and educate people about cholesterol-lowering, cardiac care, primordial prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cardiovascular benefits, and lifestyle changes.

It was started by smaller groups. Earlier it was known as the Association for the Prevention and Relief of Heart Disease. It was formed in New York, in 1915. They want to study that the people who are suffering from heart diseases will return to their work safely. This type of organization is formed in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia in the 1920s.

They felt the need for an organization that will research heart diseases and preventive cardiology. So in 1924, six cardiologists came forward from these several organizations and form American Heart Association (AHA). It was a small unit till the 1940s, after that it got support from Procter and Gamble. They gave them $1.5 million and allowed the organization to go national. Procter and Gamble researched waste products of cotton production. They formed cotton seeds from that waste product and sold it as heart-healthy, which was an alternative to animal fat. They invented Crystallized Cottonseed Oil (artificial trans-fat margarine), also known as Crisco which was healthier than butter.

AHA prepared some dietary guidelines on the basis of many epidemiological studies between 1957 to 1961. This report includes some of the following points:

  • In the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, an important role is played by diet.

  • Another important factor is fat content and total calorie intake from diet.

  • The ratio between unsaturated and saturated fat may be the basic determinant.

  • There are many other factors than fat such as dietary and nondietary factors are important.

In 1961 these guidelines are more strengthened by AHA:

  • Maintain correct body weight.

  • Do some moderate exercises like walking, for losing weight.

  • Minimize the intake of total cholesterol and fat.

  • Persons with a family history of atherosclerosis should have to pay more attention to their diet.

  • Changes in diet are done only after the advice diagnosis or treatment of a doctor or only under medical supervision.

Benefits of Exercise, Healthy Diet, And Healthy Lifestyle

  • It enhances mitochondrial function.

  • It helps in diabetes mellitus risk reduction.

  • It helps in lowering cholesterol in the body.

Conclusion

Heart diseases are very common to this day. Heart health is an important factor that needs our attention. As the heart diseases are increasing due the lifestyle changes. People eat food that contains a high amount of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and high triglycerides level. Instead of this people have to eat food that is rich in unsaturated fats, and contains soluble fiber. Give proper time to physical activities and exercise as it will improve your heart health. Reduce the intake of alcohol, smoking, nicotine, and tobacco. These are some wellness tips that a person has to follow for better health.

Rather than this cholesterol helps to maintain many body functions such as it is needed to form cell membranes and supports hormone production. But the access amount of it is harmful to the body as our body can make cholesterol which is sufficient to fulfill the needs of our body. A person should have a regular medical check-up as the heart diseases do not have any symptoms as they are only detected when the cholesterol level is too high.

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Content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. Reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. 

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