Cholesterol & Walking - Walk with a Wheaton Doc | Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - Ascension Wisconsin

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Cholesterol & Walking

A heart-healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your cholesterol levels, in some cases in place of medication. Walking and other aerobic physical activity has a direct effect on your blood's good cholesterol level.

Since weight and stress play into cholesterol levels, regular physical activity, including walking, can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, according to the U.S. government's National Cholesterol Education Program.

In fact, walking can both decrease and increase cholesterol levels. Walking increases your "good" HDL cholesterol and decreases your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels when done at the correct intensity.

The American Heart Association states that walking is the preferred physical activity for obtaining beneficial cholesterol levels since it so easy, convenient and low-cost. Walking has the lowest drop-out rate of all physical activities.

Tips for Helping Cholesterol through Walking

Know your numbers. Your total cholesterol number does not tell the whole story. Understand where your HDL and LDL levels are. LDL numbers is the “bad” cholesterol and is associated with heart attacks. HDL measures the amount of “good” cholesterol you have.

Increase exercise intensity. A casual walk may not get the heart rate up enough to make a difference. You should work out hard enough that you sweat and are tired afterward. Consider putting a slight incline on the treadmill to help increase intensity, choose a walking route that includes hills, pick up your pace or length of your walk a little bit each time.

Think about your diet. You don't have to give up meat permanently, but cutting animal products (red meat, chicken, milk, cheese, etc.) out of your diet one or two days per week can be a big help in lowering your cholesterol.

View more information on Cholesterol in our Health Library.