Globally, coronary heart disease (CHD) maintains its stronghold as the leading cause of death. A linear relationship exists between cholesterol and CHD mortality; the probability of this is reduced upon lowering serum cholesterol levels.1
Hyperlipidaemia is a blanket term that refers to any of several acquired or genetic disorders that result in a high level of lipids which consists of fats, cholesterol and triglycerides circulating in the blood.2
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of the cholesterol level of the body. Excess LDL storage can lead to angina (chest pain), heart attack or stroke. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, can lower your risk for stroke and heart disease.3
A study citing 13 meta-analyses reported a considerable improvement in the lipid profile with exercise. Exercise can have a positive effect on the pathogenesis, symptoms and physical fitness of individuals with dyslipidaemia.4
A sedentary lifestyle lowers HDL cholesterol.5 Regular physical activity raises the HDL cholesterol, and to a lesser extent, reduces the LDL levels. The amount of exercise plays a more significant impact on serum lipid profiles than the intensity of exercise.1
The importance of physical activity:
Regular exercise, in combination with dietary modifications and weight loss, can help lower cholesterol. Exercise has a positive effect on many other risk factors for heart disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.6
Forms of exercises to choose from:
- Light: Slow walking, cooking, light household chores
- Moderate: Brisk walking, yoga, swimming
- Vigorous: Jogging/running, cycling, tennis, swimming laps7
How to get started?
- Talk with your physician and voice your concerns before starting any exercise.6
- The aim of your exercise should be to improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle strength and endurance, improve range of motion, and if necessary, to promote weight loss.6
- If you have got a low fitness level, start with slow walking or shorter workout sessions of 10 to 15 minutes, gradually adding five minutes to your workouts every two to four weeks. Your workout should increase up to 30 minutes, five days per week.6
- The focus of your physical activity should be more on the duration than on the intensity.6
- Be aware that some medications treating your high lipid levels can cause discomfort in the muscles. 6
- If longer-duration workouts are too demanding or don’t fit into your schedule, break your exercise time into two 20- to 30-minute sessions. 6
- To enjoy the most benefits, follow a low-fat, low-calorie diet and continue to take all medications recommended by the physician.6
Getting our mind and body ready to exercise can be a struggle. Setting achievable goals can be one way to start off with training. You can always find a way to make your exercise routine seem fun by doing things you enjoy. Not only does exercise leave you energized and relieves stress, but you are also going to love your new self and your new heart.
- Mannu GS, Zaman MJ, Gupta A, Rehman HU, Myint PK. Evidence of lifestyle modification in the management of hypercholesterolemia. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2013 Feb 1;9(1):2-14.
- Society for Vascular Surgery. Hyperlipidemia [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 2]. Available from: https://vascular.org/patient-resources/vascular-conditions/hyperlipidemia.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. LDL and HDL cholesterol: “bad” and “good” cholesterol [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 2]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm.
- Mann S, Beedie C, Jimenez A. Differential effects of aerobic exercise, resistance training and combined exercise modalities on cholesterol and the lipid profile: review, synthesis and recommendations. Sports Med. 2014 Feb;44(2):211-21. DOI: 10.1007/s40279-013-0110-5.
- American Heart Association. Prevention and treatment of high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia) [Internet]. [updated 2017 Apr 30; cited 2020 Jan 2]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/prevention-and-treatment-of-high-cholesterol-hyperlipidemia.
- Medscape. Exercising with hyperlipidemia: prescription for health [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 2]. Available from: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/719760.
- Arnett DK, Blumenthal RS, Albert MA, Buroker AB, Goldberger ZD, Hahn EJ, et al. 2019 ACC/AHA guideline on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on clinical practice guidelines. Circulation. 2019 Sep 10;140(11):e596-e646. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000678.