I did a blood test and my cholesterol level was 202mg/dL from 200. I am little above normal. Everyday, I eat meals that include cholesterol (3 meals.) My age is 23, my height is 1.79m and weight is 68kg. Now, I every day walk at least 2 hours. Yesterday, I walked more than 4 hours. Once a week I go for football for two hours. Also, I do my whole body workouts. I don't eat anything that has sugar. Now, is this "program" good to bring down cholesterol levels? What workouts will give good results?
Research on Exercise and HDL Cholesterol
Exercise helps increase the production and effect of certain enzymes that enhance this "reverse cholesterol transport" process. A study conducted a few years ago analyzed how exercise type, frequency, and intensity impact HDL cholesterol.
- While exercise regimens varied, on average patients in these studies exercised for 40 minutes, 3-4 / week, and the effect on HDL was measured after 8 to 27 weeks.
- Across the studies, participants had increases in HDL cholesterol averaging about 2.5 mg/dL. This increase in HDL cholesterol was only modest but was statistically significant.
- Furthermore, since cardiac risk is thought to drop by two to three percent for each 1 mg/dL increase in HDL, a 2.5 mg/dL rise in HDL may actually amount to a substantial reduction in risk.
Perhaps the most interesting finding from this study is the observation that the duration of exercise sessions - and not the frequency or intensity of exercise - correlated the best with rises in HDL levels. The investigators report that in research subjects exercising for at least 20 minutes, each additional 10-minute increase in exercise duration increased HDL levels by an additional 1.4 mg/dL.
Other Lifestyle Changes to Boost HDL Cholesterol
The results of this study indicates that exercising at least three to four times per week for at least 20 minutes will help you increase your HDL levels. In fact, increasing the duration of your exercise sessions by pacing yourself (that is, by going slower if necessary) appears to be the best way to translate exercise into higher HDL levels.
In addition to exercise, other lifestyle changes can help you increase your HDL level. These include:
- Quitting smoking, which can increase your HDL cholesterol by up to 10 percent.
- Losing weight: For every 6 pounds lost, HDL may increase by 1 mg/dL.
- Choosing healthier fats such as the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in olive, peanut and canola oils as well as nuts, fish and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids.
- Consuming alcohol in moderation: No more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
It is important to emphasize that two numbers of cholesterol levels exists: LDL and HDL. To stay healthy you want to keep LDL low and HDL high.
Usually, it is hard to change the LDL level by exercises. A reduced fat percent of your body or a diet could be the proper tool.
HDL can be increased by cardiovascular exercises. Such exercises may just be running. This paper mention a threshold of 7 to 10 miles/week to increase HDL.(Men)
Keep in mind that you have to do exercises for a longer period to achieve a measurable effect. Don't expect any changes in the blood test before doing exercises (running) for several months. Football two hours a week might be very helpful. Walking is just fine too, but I think you could spend your time better doing short workouts at a high heart rate, if you walk two hours a day just for staying healthy.