Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
For managing high cholesterol, mere medicines will not be useful unless diet and lifestyle changes are adopted. It needs a comprehensive approach. Here are a few tips –
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Exercises for Hypercholesterolemia (High cholesterol in blood)
Exercise programmes which includes both strengthening exercises and cardiovascular exercises have immense benefits in hypercholesterolemia. These exercises help to reduce your weight significantly if you are overweight, especially cardio related exercises.
To manage hypercholesterolemia and to reduce weight, try –
Swimming, Aerobic exercises, outdoor games of your choice, at least for 20 – 30 minutes per day, preferably in the early morning hours.
Maintain intensity, timings and regularity of exercises, let exercising be a serious issue and practiced religiously.
Cardio exercises not only reduce your weight but also bring down your cholesterol levels as it burns large amount of calories.
For maximum advantage follow the below mentioned tips –
- Begin your exercises gradually, especially when you are overweight, the aim is to strengthen stronger and not to over stretch it
- Slowly increase the intensity of exercises. For example, for walking schedule aim to walk about 15 minutes long for 7 days in a week. Start forcing yourself to little more every week, walk little faster and little longer. Finally you will end up walking for an hour every day of the week. Avoid walking on elevated roads and hills.
- Don’t beat around the bush! Don’t wait for a proper season for exercising. If the weather outside is not good and suited for your exercises, do it indoors. Alternatively you can think about joining a gym or practice exercise at home with household gym setup. Treadmill will solve your purpose of outdoor walking or jogging. The ideal calorie burning cardio exercise machines are stationary bikes, rowing machines and elliptical machines which help you to be steady in your routine and keep you on track.
- Don’t make exercising boring schedule, bring variety and enjoy doing everything. Pick exercises that suit you. Strictly adhere to your exercise programme. Interchange between sports, outdoor activities and classes.
- Do not get over-enthusiastic and carried away, don’t try doing too many things together. You are likely to be frustrated, burned out and sore in case you force yourself faster as your body takes time to be fit and to adapt with regular workouts. It is advisable to be slower and smarter even when you feel enthusiastic in losing your weight faster.
- Read related: 47 Good Foods And Home Remedies To Reduce High Cholesterol
Beneficial Yoga in managing hypercholesterolemia –
Kapalbhati pranayama (Skull shining breathing technique) – brings down your weight, reduces high cholesterol and improves metabolic rate. It enhances the functioning of digestive tract and stimulates abdominal organs.
Chakrasana (Wheel pose) – aids in relieving constipation and massages abdominal organs. It enhances liver functioning and hence aids to eliminate hypercholesterolemia and fat from your body.
Shalabasana (Locust pose) – arouse the abdominal organs and extends the belly. You can get relief from cholesterol and constipation on constantly practicing this pose.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand) – enhances digestion, reduces high cholesterol and stimulates abdominal organs
Paschimottasana (Two legged forward bend pose) – stimulates kidneys and liver, eliminates additional fat from the abdominal region and reduces cholesterol levels and obesity
Ardha Matsyendarasana (Sitting half-spinal twist pose) – aids to overcome digestion errors, stimulates liver and massages the abdominal organs, reduces cholesterol
Note: Start Yoga sessions after having recovered from hypercholesterolemia because this condition is often associated with serious disorders for which immediately starting upon the Yoga may be harmful. Kindly start Yoga training under a professional and then practice at home. Contact your doctor before starting Yoga classes and ask him or her if you are ready for these sessions.
Comprehensive Treatment for high cholesterol –
Hypercholesterolemia with high risk factors leads to mortality. Only medicines will not be sufficient and the treatment approach should also involve lifestyle changes. For those at high risk, a combination of statins and lifestyle modification has been shown to be effective and also to reduce mortality.
- To stop smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption,
- Increasing physical activities and exercises
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Taking balanced, fat free food
Note – In overweight and obese people should lose weight. On average a kilogram of weight loss can reduce LDL cholesterol by 0.8 mg/dL.
The most effective diet to lower total and LDL cholesterol is a vegetarian diet. Many also suggest ‘Mediterranean diet’. Generally the best diet includes:
- Obtaining majority of daily food calories from plant sources mainly plenty of fruits, and high proportions of vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts, dietary fibres and foods low in fats
- A 2015 Cochrane review found replacing saturated fat with poly-unsaturated fat resulted in a small decrease in cardiovascular disease by decreasing the blood cholesterol
- Use olive oil as the principal fat, replace all other fats and oils
- Have low fat cheese and or yoghurt daily
- Eat fish at least a couple of times in a week
- Limit processed foods
- Drink alcohol in moderation unless medically not indicated. No more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 per day for women
- Trans-fats are recognized as potential risk factors for cholesterol related cardiovascular disease. Avoiding them in an adult diet is highly recommended.
- The National Lipid Association recommends that people with familial hypercholesterolemia restrict intakes of total fat to 25-35% of energy intake, saturated fat to less than 7% of energy intake and cholesterol to less than 200mg per day. Changes in total fat intake in low calorie diets do not appear to affect blood cholesterol
- Increasing fibre consumption – has shown to reduce LDL levels
- Increasing consumption of whole grains also has shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (particularly whole grain oats)
- A diet high in fructose can raise LDL cholesterol in the blood
Diet recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Programme –
- Saturated fat – less than 7% of calories
- Monounsaturated fat – about 20% of calories
- Polyunsaturated fat – about 10% of calories
- Protein – about 15% of calories
- Carbohydrates – about 50% of calories
- Fibres – about 25 grams of soluble fibres per day
- Cholesterol – less than 200 mg / day
Maintain weight – To maintain at a desirable body weight one needs to take only the calories which he or she can effectively burn. For losing weight one needs to take fewer calories than they can burn. Help of an experienced dietician or nutritionist or doctor shall be taken to chart out the diet schedules. To add effect an effective diet programme should be combined with at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking, on daily basis.
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