Wright Now Fitness: How Exercise Can Improve Cholesterol Levels

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Aaron Wright's tips on how to take control of cholesterol

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The risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD) include elevated LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein/the major carrier of cholesterol in the circulation), low HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein/helps with removal of cholesterol from cells and transporting it back to the liver), elevated triglycerides (major form of fat), as well as high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes. Exercise, weight loss, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet (low saturated and trans fats), stress reduction, and drug therapy are the methods used to change these risk factors.

To improve cholesterol levels, a person should focus on diet and exercise. Losing body fat is important because it correlates with a reduction in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as an increase in HDL cholesterol. The minimum amount of exercise necessary per week to improve blood lipids is around 15 miles of running or 20+ miles of walking or 30,000 or more pedometer walking step counts beyond baseline steps (1500 calories of exercise). Even better would be to expend 2000 calories with exercise per week. This much exercise helps to control blood cholesterol levels as well as is beneficial for long-term weight control. Below you will find more details regarding what duration and frequency of exercise is recommended for each type of cholesterol issue.

LDL cholesterol

In order to lower LDL cholesterol, 2000 calories (200-300 minutes) or more of exercise per week is recommended and it can take as many as 4-6 months to see a significant change. Inactivity can increase LDL cholesterol in as little as 15 days, but the good news is that as little as 2 miles of walking each week can prevent this increase! Keeping dietary fat between 10-30%, losing weight, exercise, and drug therapy have all been shown to lower LDL cholesterol from 5-35%, and up to 65% with drug therapy.

HDL cholesterol

Diet and exercise combined seem to have the greatest affect on raising HDL cholesterol. Exercise seems particularly important for men with high triglycerides, lower HDL levels, and abdominal body fat. For people who are inactive, a minimum of 1000 calories of exercise per week is required in addition to regular physical activity levels for that person to significantly increase HDL cholesterol. It seems that daily exercise works better than 1 longer workout session. For example, 15 minutes of daily exercise is more beneficial than 1 session of 45 minutes in order to increase HDL levels.


Triglyceride reduction appears to be directly proportionate to exercise training. It is ideal to do aerobic exercise for 40-60 minutes for 4 to 6 days per week to lose body fat and lower triglycerides. Studies have shown a decrease in triglycerides for up to 48 hours after 45-50 minutes of sustained cardio. Keep up with that daily cardio! Furthermore, as triglycerides go down, HDL cholesterol usually goes up!

Exercise before eating a high-fat meal

If you perform sufficient exercise 1-12 hours before consuming a high-fat or high-glycemic (foods that raise blood glucose levels the fastest and highest) meal, you can lower the body's blood fat/triglycerides as a result of the meal by 25-40%! Do your cardio before attending your next party or having your Thanksgiving meal.

Age, gender, genetics, and obesity all affect cholesterol levels, but you can control the risk factors of elevated LDL levels, low HDL cholesterol, and elevated triglycerides with lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, as well as drug therapy. By expending 1500-2000 calories per week and eating a heart-healthy diet, it is possible to lower your cholesterol, control your blood pressure and blood sugar, and maintain a healthy weight.

I will see you at your next workout!

Aaron Wright
Look Younger. Feel Stronger. Live Longer.

Aaron Wright, CSCS, CMES, CPT, creator of the Wright Now Fitness System, a comprehensive dvd and digital exercise system "for everyone", is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning specialist, ACE certified medical exercise specialist, ACE certified personal trainer, orthopedic exercise specialist, functional training specialist, sports conditioning specialist, therapeutic exercise specialist, exercise programming expert, and health and wellness speaker.

Please visit us at http://www.wrightnowfitness.com for more information on our DVD and digital download/instant streaming workouts and more tips and advice on the benefits of diet and exercise to prevent hypertension.

NOTE: Always consult your physician or health care provider before beginning any exercise program.

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