Exercising is one of the best ways to counter high cholesterol. Mr Png Eng Keat, Physiotherapist at the
Department of Physiotherapy, together with
LIFE Centre (Lifestyle Improvement and Fitness Enhancement), both departments from
Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the
SingHealth group, offer advice on types of exercises that help to lower cholesterol. (iStock photo)
Having a cholesterol level that is too high puts you at greater risk of cardiovascular conditions such as the narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis), chest pain, heart attack and stroke. Exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of lowering cholesterol.
"HDL ('good cholesterol') transports excess cholesterol from the cells to the liver for processing and elimination," says Mr Png. Thus increasing your HDL can improve your overall ratio of good to bad cholesterol. Additionally, exercising regularly also helps to lower your triglycerides ('bad cholesterol'), which along with an improved ratio of good to bad cholesterol, lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Reap more benefits with moderate-intensity workouts
For general health purposes, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.
"But sometimes, at least 300 minutes of exercise per week might be required before you can see beneficial changes in weight and cholesterol levels," says Mr Png. The longer a person spends exercising and the higher the intensity, the greater the potential effect on cholesterol levels.
Doctor's guide to healthy weight loss
If you're just starting to exercise, go easy first
If you haven't been exercising for a while or have never started, begin slow then gradually increase the pace and intensity. But before you begin any exercise programme, do consult your general physician for a complete health check-up.
To improve your cholesterol status, you can try a combination of these exercises:
- Aerobic activities: These are heart-pumping activities such as jogging, jumping rope, biking and swimming
- Strength-training routines: These are muscle-building exercises like squats, push-ups and lunges
- Flexibility exercises: These are an integral part of all good exercise programmes and should be done after each workout.
Steps to start exercising and to do it regularly
"You can vary your exercise routine, for instance, changing the activity done in the aerobic/cardiovascular component from jogging to skipping rope," says Mr Png. "Or you can change the resistance/strengthening activity from weight training to calisthenics. But the intensity should be kept the same to have an effect on your cholesterol levels."
Exercising regularly has a variety of benefits
Besides improving your cholesterol numbers, the overall health benefits of exercise are immense.
"When you exercise regularly, you are also getting many other cardiovascular benefits, like a lower blood pressure and a diminished risk of heart attack and stroke," explains Mr Png. Exercise has also been shown to contribute to a lower risk of cancer. Of course, it also promotes weight loss as well as an overall sense of well-being.
Be sure to heed your doctor's advice concerning exercise and cholesterol management, and to take your prescribed medication regularly.
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