An Exercise Plan to Improve Your Cholesterol Numbers

In the last post we looked at what the cholesterol numbers and ranges mean. You also learned that you can go after the enemy, cholesterol in this case, through a variety of ways, including exercise. Sure, some people may just opt for a prescription drug, a statin, in order to lower their cholesterol. But honestly, that does nothing to address the problem, it’s merely putting a bandage over it. The best thing to do is address it head on, and being a personal trainer, exercise is an area that I’m urging you to focus on!

First, it is important to realize how exercise is going to help you improve your cholesterol numbers. It’s a two-fold process really, because:

Exercise will help you lose weight and improve overall health, leading to a reduction in your LDL, or lousy, cholesterol levels.

Exercise will raise HDL, or healthy, cholesterol levels. This will help to protect your heart and keep your body healthy.

So now you know the virtues of exercising and what it will do to improve your cholesterol numbers. Here are my professional recommendations for getting started with an exercise program:

Your goal should be to do cardio exercises (those that get your heart pumping) 3-7 days per week, with a goal to burn 1,500-2,000 throughout the course of the week.

Your intensity level should be between 40-70 percent of your VO2. Your VO2 is the oxygen consumption, or your cardio-respiratory fitness level. There are online calculators that will help you determine this rate.

Start out by doing two short sessions that are 20 minutes each, then progress to two sessions that are 40-60 minutes each. You can start with low impact exercises, such as walking, bicycling, or general gardening.

Be sure to include some strength training into your schedule. You should be doing this 2-4 times per week, working every major part of the body. Do 10-15 reps for 1-3 sets.

Start out with the machines targeting flexibility. Do it just enough to feel the stretch and hold it for 10-30 seconds. This is a good way to involve static active stretching into your routine.

So are you ready to be the kind of senior citizen that forgoes the statins and uses exercise and other lifestyle changes to lower your cholesterol level? Great! Start out by doing these exercises above, and before you know it, you will see some improvement. Not only will your numbers be better, but you will surely see other positive results as well!

Warm-Up

Workout for Mon & Thur

Workout for Tue & Fri

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So you have high cholesterol, now what?

If you are a baby boomer with high cholesterol, you are not alone. Your doctor may even want to put you on a statin, which is a cholesterol-lowering medication. Maybe you feel like you have no hope, but that’s just wrong. It’s all about going after the enemy, and in this case, cholesterol is the enemy!

Some of the top factors that impact cholesterol rates include drinking alcohol, the food you eat, living a sedentary lifestyle, abdominal obesity, smoking, steroid use, insulin resistance, and even genetics. About 25 percent of the people who have high cholesterol do because of genetic factors. So that means for the other 75 percent of you, there are lifestyle changes you can make in order to get it under control.

It’s important to understand your cholesterol numbers so you know where you are at. Here’s a breakdown of what the number ranges mean:

< 150 is normal

150-199 is borderline high

200-499 is high

> 500 is very high (you may die if you don’t get control of it immediately)

Your numbers may even be broken down more, into HDL and LDL figures. For HDL, think of “healthy” cholesterol, while the LDL is “lousy” cholesterol, or the one that is bad for your health. Here’s the breakdown on what your numbers mean for each of these:

HDL – the healthy cholesterol

Your goal is to have it be greater than 60, while less than 40 is considered undesirable.

LDL – the lousy cholesterol (ideally, keep it 100 and under)

100 is optimal

100-129 above optimal

130-159 borderline high

160-189 very high

VLDL is the very low density lipid protein, which being 30 and under is desirable.

Keep in mind that cholesterol itself is produced by your body. But there are foods that you eat that can raise your cholesterol level, along with the other factors. Animal based foods contain cholesterol, while plant based foods generally do not.

So if your cholesterol numbers are falling into the less than desirable area, there are options. You can do drug therapy, increase your activity, lose weight, change your eating habits (including reducing meat intake and increasing fiber intake to 25-30 grams per day), reduce alcohol consumption, and stop smoking. Stay tuned for the next blog post, where I will give you a sample exercise plan that will help with improving your cholesterol numbers.

PART TWO READ HERE….

 Three Cholesterol Lowering Meal Options

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