Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and various diseases related to high cholesterol have been considered to be of concern. Most of these diseases are caused by poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.
We all know that physical exercises are excellent for health, aesthetics, and well-being and that high cholesterol harms health. But what is the relationship between physical exercise and cholesterol?
When we talk about cholesterol, we immediately imagine something bad; we always associate it with heart disease and an unbalanced diet. In this post, we will address what cholesterol is, its types, and its benefits and harms to human health. And more, how physical exercise and healthy eating can contribute to a balanced cholesterol rate and a better life expectancy.
What Is Cholesterol ?
Cholesterol is a lipid that is a type of fat that exists in every cell of the human body and is present in various organs such as the brain, muscles, skin, liver, nerves, intestines, and of course, the heart. It is essential for producing several important hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, bile acids, and metabolism of vitamins A, E, K, and D. Our body produces about 70% of cholesterol, and the rest comes from our food.
So cholesterol is good and is important for the health of the body. Still, only one type of cholesterol is considered good: HDL (high-density lipoprotein); it has this name because it is fat-coated with proteins and is much denser than bad cholesterol.
The Best Physical Exercises To Lower Cholesterol
Since the 1970s, American researchers have correlated physical activity and decreased bad cholesterol; studies have shown that runners had better cholesterol levels than people who did not exercise.
There is no exercise better than the other, and the important thing is that you have pleasure in practicing it; now, if you are a card-carrying sedentary person and want to change that situation, how about starting with a walk?! You don’t need equipment or big investments, just a pair of sneakers and goodwill.
Below are some exercises that are excellent for controlling cholesterol and having a healthier lifestyle:
Swimming is a complete and pleasurable sport that reduces LDL levels, works a large part of the muscles and joints, has no impacts, and the student develops excellent cardiorespiratory performance. In addition to lowering cholesterol, it contributes to good mobility and flexibility.
Walking is the most viable and democratic way to lead a healthier life. And better if you pay nothing for it. But to achieve satisfactory results, it is important to the regularity of the activity. Walking 5 to 7 days a week for at least 30 minutes is enough to reduce heart risks by up to 30%. The benefits begin to appear after about three months of activity.
According to studies published by the American Heart Association, walking effectively lowers the risk of hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. According to the same survey, the threat of having high cholesterol decreases by up to 7% for a sedentary person who starts to perform such activity.
There is no difference between pedaling a common bike and an exercise bike; the gains concerning health and aesthetics are the same.
Of course, many people, including me, prefer outdoor physical activities, like in a park, but on a rainy day, the ergometer has more advantages. Good pedaling helps strengthen the heart and lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. It is excellent for increasing physical conditioning and endurance.
Now for the good news for cyclists. Research carried out at the Laboratory of Lipid Metabolism at the Instituto do Coração (Incor) demonstrates that those who practice this sport can accelerate the metabolism of the particle that transports LDL; that is, this cholesterol was removed from the athlete’s blood five times faster than a sedentary person, but this only occurs when cholesterol is not oxidized.
Once oxidation occurs, the particles enter the arteries forming fatty plaques which can clog them, causing serious heart problems. Cycling increases blood HDL levels, halves LDL oxidation rates, and lowers triglyceride levels.
Aerobic gymnastics, like other exercises, is effective in increasing HDL, but to obtain better results, the ideal is to intersperse it with aerobic activities such as walking, running, and swimming. Gymnastics is more effective in raising HDL, and strength training are more effective in lowering LDL.
Do you know what aging and a person who doesn’t do exercises to strengthen their muscles have in common?
Both have reduced muscle mass. And this coincidence does not stop there. This group of people also has a high rate of developing cardiovascular disease. When we strengthen the musculature, the heart suffers less overload with daily efforts.
Regular weight training decreases the percentage of body fat, cholesterol, and triglycerides. These benefits are even more significant in women; two and a half hours a week of aerobic exercise combined with strength training is enough to start noticing positive results.