Lower Your Cholesterol - Get Physical!

If you have heart disease, it doesn't necessarily mean that you should avoid physical activity. In fact, most people with heart disease and those who are at high risk of developing heart disease can benefit from regular light to moderate exercise.

  • Regular physical activity may help you by:
  • Lowering LDL "bad" cholesterol level
  • Raising HDL "good" cholesterol level
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Lowering triglyceride levels
  • Reducing excess weight
  • Improving the fitness of your heart and lungs.

Note: Talk with your doctor before starting an activity to be sure you are following a safe program that works for you.

Your doctor may recommend an activity program to meet your needs. If you have been inactive for a long time, you will be instructed to start with low-to-moderate level activities, such as:

  • Walking
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Gardening
  • Housework
  • Dancing
  • Exercising at home

Begin by doing the activity for a few minutes most days. Your doctor may then increase your activity level, allowing you to work up to a longer program -- for most people, the goal is at least 30 minutes per day, 3 or 4 days per week. This can include regular aerobic activity, such as:

  • Brisk walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Playing tennis

If you have chest pain, feel faint or light-headed, or become extremely out of breath while exercising, stop the activity at once and tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If you are currently recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery, your doctor may suggest that you begin your new exercise program in a cardiac rehabilitation center. A cardiac rehabilitation center is a place that you can go to exercise under the supervision of a nurse or doctor.

For more, please visit the Cholesterol Center.

Portions of the above information was provided with the kind permission of NIH (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/)


Last Editorial Review: 2/1/2005