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Cholesterol Guide: Exercise Tips

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Check with your doctor to ensure safety before starting an exercise program. Do not engage in any activity that causes chest pain, excessive shortness of breath, dizziness, or lightheadedness. Stop immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Wear comfortable clothes with sneakers or flat shoes with laces. It is important to wear a shoe with good support so that you can reduce the risk of orthopedic problems.

Exercise has the greatest effect on triglycerides (lowers them) and HDL, the good cholesterol (increases it). Exercise does not have much impact on LDL unless combined with dietary changes and weight loss.

Start slowly. It is recommended by the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine that people exercise most days of the week in an aerobic fashion. This type of exercise is repetitive in nature and uses multiple muscle groups. Examples of aerobic exercises include cycling, swimming, walking, elliptical machines, and step machines.

Start out with 15 to 20 minutes; in some cases, you may have to do 10-minute intervals. Try to build up over time so that the exercise lasts at least 30 minutes or your intervals add up to 30 minutes. Do not forget to include a warm-up and a cool-down consisting of about five minutes each. These periods are in addition to your 30 minutes. The optimal goal is to achieve approximately 200 minutes per week of exercise. This can be accomplished by doing 30 minutes of exercise seven days per week or doing 40 minutes of exercise five days per week. The exercise should feel moderate to somewhat heavy so that you can still carry on a conversation without being too breathless, however, you should not be able to sing comfortably.

It is important to remain well-hydrated during exercise. A good guideline is to drink eight ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise.

Make exercise a regular part of your healthy lifestyle, and try to exercise at the same time of day so it becomes a habit.

Use caution when exercising right after meals, when it is very hot or humid, or if you do not feel up to exercising.

Ask family and friends to join you to help keep you motivated. This also can help them to start or continue on a road to a healthy lifestyle.

Note your activities on a calendar or in a record book. Record the type of exercise, distance/amount of time, and how you felt during the activity. This will help you keep track of your progress.

Use a variety of exercise to keep up your interest. Try things such as yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, or kickboxing. Join an exercise group, health club or the YMCA. Many churches and senior centers also offer exercise programs.

Look for chances to be more active during the day. Some examples would be walking the mall before shopping, parking your car farther away from your destination than necessary, choosing a flight of stairs over an escalator, or taking 10 to15 minute walking breaks while watching TV or sitting for some other activity.

If there is a break in your exercise due to illness or other factors, remember that your body adapts to whatever level of exertion is put on it. You might have to restart at a slightly slower level than before the break.


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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.This document was last reviewed on: 12/31/2013...#12111.