8 Fitness Tips to Help Lower Your Cholesterol
There’s a link between exercise and cholesterol. A sedentary life can keep your LDL bad cholesterol levels high and your HDL good cholesterol levels low, just the opposite of the way you want them. But incorporating exercise into your life may help lower your cholesterol levels on its own -- and help you stay at a healthy weight. How can you safely start a healthy exercise plan you can stick with? Follow this checklist.
___ Start small and set realistic goals. To exercise for lower cholesterol, you don't have to become Lance Armstrong. Don't say "I'll go to the gym every night this week." Instead, start out by pledging to take a half-hour walk after dinner at least four nights this week. Research shows that even moderate exercise improves your cholesterol and heart health.
___ Pick an activity you like -- otherwise, you won't stick with it. If you hate running, don't buy jogging shoes just because your best friend lost weight running. To help lower cholesterol, find out what exercises fit your fitness personality.
___ Keep an exercise journal. Studies show that you need at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three or more times a week, to raise your HDL good cholesterol levels, so keep track of your progress to make sure you reach your goal every week.
___Mark that journal or a calendar for exercise milestones you hope to achieve, like running a mile without stopping or swimming 10 lengths of the pool. Plan to reward yourself for those achievements with a special treat, like a night out, a new outfit or a massage.
___ Buy a pedometer and track how many steps you walk on an average day. Then, try to add at least 2,000 steps per day to your total exercise regimen. That's about half an hour of walking.
___ Include weight training in your exercise regimen for lower cholesterol. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so the more muscle you build, the more efficiently you'll lose weight.
___ Set an exercise goal. Many people do better with a fitness plan if they have a goal in mind. If you like running, choose a 5K race to train for. If you enjoy cycling, plan to treat yourself to a weekend bike trip somewhere you love.
___ Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen to lower cholesterol, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle or have chronic health problems like heart disease.