Cholesterol is a type of fat that plays an important role in the health and disease of the heart and the blood vessels. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is generally referred to as good cholesterol as it improves the functions of the blood vessels and the heart, while LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is called bad cholesterol as it affects the functioning of the blood vessels and the heart.
The National Cholesterol Education Program states that an appropriate diet, weight loss and physical activity are the cornerstones of therapy for individuals with cholesterol disorders.1 When exercise is of sufficient volume (adequate frequency and duration), it can significantly reduce triglycerides (fats) and help to increase the levels of good cholesterol in our bodies.
Exercise helps to lower cholesterol levels in several ways1:
- Increases the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood, while reducing the amount of the bad cholesterol (LDL); especially fat lost around the waist and abdomen.
- Promotes weight loss and weight control.
- Tones up the body’s circulation, helping to remove clots in the blood vessels and allows the heart to function more efficiently.
An increase in total energy expenditure appears to be the most important determinant of successful exercise-induced weight loss. Therefore, the best long-term outcomes may be achieved when physical activity produces an energy expenditure of at least 2,500 kilocalories (kcal) per week.2 Therefore, increases in energy expenditure through exercise and other types of physical activity is an essential component in losing weight and keeping it off.
- American Council on Exercise, 2001. Available online at: http://www.oasiswebsite.com/images/Alive/Managing_Cholesterol_i24.pdf. Accessed on: 12 Jan 09.
- Lakka TA, Bouchard C. Physical Activity, Obesity and Cardiovascular Diseases. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2005; (170): 137–163.
- Jakicic JM, Otto AD. Treatment and Prevention of Obesity: What Is the Role of Exercise? Nutr Rev. 2006; 64(2 Pt 2): S57–S61.