Friday, June 29, 2012

Exercise May Improve Cholesterol Ratio and Lower Triglycerides

How to Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides Naturally - Photo by RedAndr at Wikimedia Commons
More than one-third of Americans have high blood cholesterol levels. High LDL (bad) cholesterol and high triglyceride levels combined with low HDL (good) cholesterol tend to increase a person's chances for developing heart disease in addition to many other health concerns. However, only taking medications to change the numbers may not be the most effective way to decrease risk for a heart attack. Consistent lifestyle changes may reap much greater benefits.

Exercise and Cholesterol Numbers - Photo by Mutari at Wikimedia Commons
Does Changing Cholesterol and Triglyceride Numbers Improve Health?

Total cholesterol numbers do not necessarily tell the entire story regarding a person's risk for heart disease. A higher total cholesterol number may be due to elevated "good" cholesterol, which does not tend to negatively affect one's health. However, a high total cholesterol due to elevated "bad" cholesterol may put one's health in danger.

HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels above 60 mg/dL tend to lower one's risk for heart disease and are often associated with an active lifestyle. This "good" cholesterol helps transport cholesterol from the blood and arteries back to the liver where it can be converted to bile. Studies indicate that lowering "good" or HDL cholesterol by 1% increases one's risk for heart disease by two to three percent. Low HDL levels tend to occur with a sedentary lifestyle. HDL cholesterol levels at or below 40 mg/dL are considered low.

LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels below 100 mg/dL are desired while lower numbers may be optimal in people with certain health conditions. LDL levels at or above 160 mg/dL are considered high. When this "bad" cholesterol increases in the body, fatty proteins tend to stick to the inside of artery walls, which can impair circulation.

The National Cholesterol Education Program considers a fasting triglyceride level at or below 150 mg/dL to be normal. Fasting triglyceride levels 151 to 199 mg/dL are considered borderline high. Levels above 199 are considered high or very high.

The National Institutes of Health made the decision to stop a clinical trial early that looked at combining statin therapy, which lowered "bad" cholesterol, with niacin (vitamin B3) therapy, which increased "good" cholesterol and lowered triglycerides, in study participants with a history of cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, this combined therapy did not show a significant difference in cardiovascular events, and those in the group with added niacin treatment experienced an increased number of strokes due to unexplained reasons.

Exercise and Triglycerides - Photo by GOKLuLe at Wikimedia Commons
Does Exercise Lower Bad Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels?

Adopting an active lifestyle in addition to healthy eating habits may be some of the best prescriptions for improving a person's heart health. The American Heart Association recommends that most adults should participate in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days per week.

According to the American Council on Exercise, an unfit person who participates in moderately intense exercises approximately three to four hours per week for twelve to sixteen weeks may reduce his or her total blood cholesterol level by ten to twenty percent. This amount of exercise may also result in weight loss, which might have additional positive effects such as lowering body mass index, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing risks for diabetes.

One small clinical study found that aerobic activity one hour before eating a high-fat meal tended to lower triglyceride levels after the meal in men with metabolic syndrome. Another study looked at healthy adults and found that morning exercise was associated with lower triglyceride levels after meals later in the day and that triglyceride levels tended to be higher on days that participants were sedentary.

How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally - Photo by Dcoetzee at Wikimedia Commons
Lifestyle Changes May Lead to Better Health

Many people are looking for ways to improve heart health naturally because quality of life does not necessarily come from taking medications alone. Seeking individualized medical advice from one's healthcare provider is the safest approach. In addition to considering drug therapy if warranted, a consistent exercise routine and making healthy diet choices may improve heart health in many people.

Readers may also wish to read Coconut Oil and Its Affect on Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, and Alzheimers. Find more health-related articles at the Fit Tips 4 Life site map.


American Council on Exercise Fit Facts article "Managing Cholesterol With Exercise" by Ralph La Forge, M.S. accessed June 29, 2012.

American Diabetes Association 2012 article "Morning Exercise Lowers Triglycerides" by Lynn Haley accessed June 29, 2012.

American Heart Association article "Triglycerides" accessed June 28, 2012.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article "Postprandial triglyceride responses to aerobic exercise and extended-release niacin" accessed June 29, 2012.

NIH News May 26, 2011 article "NIH stops clinical trial on combination cholesterol treatment" accessed June 29, 2012.

University of New Mexico article "A Review of the Impact of Exercise on Cholesterol Levels" by Chantal A. Vella et. al. accessed June 28, 2012.

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