Cholesterol and Exercise

Dear Doctors,
I received the results from the blood work and this shows that you I have low HDL Cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol, but everything else looks good. I heard that exercise can help cholesterol, and am thinking of walking what do you think about this?

Walking has been termed one of the best exercises for years. The benefits are multifactorial which could benefit many of us at most stages of our lives. Walking is an aerobic activity that for the most part is safe, doesn’t take any specialized equipment, improves circulation, can maintain joint mobility and can be a transition to more strenuous exercise. Walking if it is performed at target heart rate, getting your pulse up to 185 minus your age, for 15 minutes three times a week can be a powerful exercise. When a person is out of condition, a slower pace will cause their pulse to rise quickly. As a person gets more aerobically fit, it will take a longer distance and or a faster pace to cause their pulse to rise to their target heart rate.

Competitive race walkers will often quote research illustrating howwalking properly will activate more muscles than any other exercise including running and swimming. When a person runs, for example, they have momentum that carries them through movements, which avoids the necessity of certain muscles to respond. Swimming is another example of an excellent aerobic exercise, but the buoyancy of the water will not benefit individuals as much as having physical contact with the ground or surface. This is especially important in individuals that have osteoporosis or thinning of the bones. Walking requires physical contact with the ground and exerts pressure on joints which in turn helps to mineralize bones and could prevent and even reverse osteoporosis.

Walking at target heart rate is one of the many exercises we encourage patients to engage in on a regular basis, to reduce cholesterol, increase circulation, help with metabolism, and general conditioning.

Summer time is a great opportunity to commit yourself to a walking program. We have been blessed with many parks and golf courses in Rockford that could serve as an enjoyable environment to get started. For those who do not like the “summer heat”, early morning walks or evening walks may be more enjoyable. A good alternative when the leaves start to turn and the snow flies, is to join the “mall walkers”. Many malls have walkers that flock together on a regular basis.

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