Walking is good exercise but burns less fatBy now, I am sure you are aware that in order to maintain optimal health, your cholesterol levels must be maintained below a certain level.  See  post on ideal cholesterol levels.  Besides a healthy diet, there are lifestyle changes that will help keep cholesterol at a healthy level.

One of the major factors that can drive cholesterol levels up is excess body fat.  Excess weight/fat is also a risk factor on its own and can lead to a whole host of other problems, such as diabetes, hormonal problems, strokes, and high blood pressure.  By losing weight you can lower your bad cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, as well as increase your good cholesterol.  But it isn’t just losing “weight”: for example, if you took a diuretic, your body weight would decrease but your health would not be better off.  The goal is to lose body fat.

Loss of body fat happens when your calorie expenditure exceeds your calorie intake.  Ideally, you don’t want too large of a deficit causing your body to go into “starvation” mode, meaning it releases hormones that causes undue hunger.  Going too low fat, too high carb, too low carb, and too few caloaries are not optimal ways to drop body fat.  Too low fat with too high carbohydrate can actually adversely affect your cholesterol levels!

Best is to eat 4 to 5 small balanced meals a day (to keep blood sugar steady) and to increase calorie expenditure by walking, biking, swimming or other sports.  My personal choice is weight training, stair climbing and walks.  At age 58, I am able to maintain a low body fat while I’m able to eat enough to be satisfied.

This brings up another super method for increasing the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol: Exercise.  This is one of the best things you can do for your health.  Exercise not only reduces cholesterol, body fat, and blood pressure, it also helps keep your bones strong and calcified, keeps muscle mass up which increases metabolism, and boosts mood.

Exercise should be fun, not torture.    I often walk with my daughter, partner, or sister.  It becomes a nice social activity.  One could ride bikes, hike, horseback ride, play golf, garden, walk at the beach or park with family and friends.

Don’t undertake anything until you consult a doctor to make sure you can undertake what you want, especially if you haven’t done anything in a long time.  Don’t go full bore all at once but work into it.  Start with 10 minutes walking, then move up as you adjust.  .I started with very light weights and now lift quite heavy.  It takes time for the muscles and joints to build up enough to handle more strenuous activity, especially if you are over 50.

There are other factors that you do not have control over when it comes to cholesterol: those are age, gender and genetics.  Between exercise, losing fat, and eating a healthy diet, rest and drinking water, you can counteract all the disadvantages.  For more, check out the other articles on this website or sign up for the free e-course on lowering cholesterol.

There are dozens of simple lifestyle changes in “Get Rid of Bad Cholesterol”, available on Amazon.