When it comes to lowering cholesterol, there is no single exercise that works. Reducing cholesterol levels requires a combination of diet, exercise, lifestyle modifications, and medication if necessary.
How often should you exercise to lower cholesterol?
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day for good heart health. With a balanced diet and daily exercise of 30 minutes about 6 days a week, it could take 8 weeks to a year to see results, depending on your current body weight.
5 exercises to reduce cholesterol
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT is probably one of the most efficient ways to reduce cholesterol and decrease overall body fat percentage. HIIT combines strenuous exercises with short breaks, called recovery periods, between each exercise. Based on your fitness level, a typical HIIT session can vary from 15 to 30 minutes. As it is a difficult type of workout regimen, it requires quite a bit of motivation to maintain a consistent program. You may need to avoid HIIT if you have joint problems, poor heart health, or back pain.
- Strength training: Lifting weights boosts your metabolic rate and maintains an efficient fat-burning rate, which means fat continues to burn even after a workout. In addition to burning fat, weight lifting exercises also build muscles and tone the body. For best results, strength training should be combined with HIIT and cardio exercises, such as running, swimming, or cycling.
- Running or brisk walking: Running and brisk walking are excellent ways to keep healthy, burn calories, and reduce body fat percentage, which all help to reduce cholesterol.
- Elliptical training: Using an elliptical trainer is a low-impact but effective cardio workout. Spending 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer can burn around 300 calories and helps you avoid the wear and tear on joints that can occur with running, making it ideal for older individuals.
- Bicycling: Bicycling is also easier on your joints and an effective way of lowering cholesterol levels. With high speed and intensity, you can burn up to 500 calories during a 30-minute workout.
How to reduce cholesterol through your diet
The USDA developed a guide for adults and children called “MyPlate” which replaces the obsolete “food pyramid.” With the MyPlate approach, there are five food groups in set proportions: fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy.
The plate is divided into sections:
- Vegetables: 40% of the plate
- Protein: 20% of the plate
- Grains: 30% of the plate
- Fruit: 10% of the plate
- Dairy: Small cup of yogurt or a glass of fat-free milk
Dividing the plate this way makes it easier to understand the types and quantity of food to include in each meal to make it balanced. This diet plan can also help those with high cholesterol levels to eat a healthy diet without excess fat.
Reducing cholesterol with intermittent fasting
- Alternate-day fasting
- Periodic fasting
- Daily time-restricted feeding
However, the most effective method is one that can be easily maintained based on your daily routine. A common feature is sticking to an 8-hour eating window, for example:
- Start at 10 a.m.
- End at 6 p.m.
- This way you are eating between the 8-hour window of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and fasting the rest of the time.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing Weight. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html
Harvard Health Publishing. Diet & Weight Loss. https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/diet-and-weight-loss
National Institute of Health. Guide to Behavior Change. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/behavior.htm
U.S. Department of Agriculture. MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov