Managing Cholesterol Levels With Exercise

With the combination of weight loss, healthy eating and exercise, high cholesterol can be adequately managed in many cases. Exercise alone can improve cholesterol levels. First, it can lower your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. And exercise can also raise your HDL, or “good” cholesterol.

Doctors recommend that you get 60 minutes of exercise each day to combat high cholesterol. But if you have trouble working that into your schedule, try at least to stick to the minimum recommended amount of exercise: about 30 minutes per day. Remember, you don’t need to get all that exercise at the same time. Four 15-minute bursts of exercise can be as effective as an hour-long workout.

Lower Cholesterol with Exercise: Getting Started

If you are unaccustomed to exercise, consult a doctor to make sure you are healthy enough for physical activity. She’ll have specific suggestions for appropriate exercise activities and goals.

Once you have the go-ahead from your doctor, work your way up to the recommended 30-to-60 minutes of daily exercise. Don’t want to hit the treadmill? Don’t despair. Exercise can include a wide variety of activities, including:

  • Bicycling
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Walking.

Exercise for High Cholesterol: Sticking to It

On the road to lower cholesterol, exercise can be a great help. However, it can be hard to stay motivated to exercise every day—at times you might even be tempted to quit altogether. Here are some tips to help you stick to your exercise routine:

  • Choose fun activities. If you don’t like swimming but do enjoy tennis, try to set up as many matches as possible. There’s no need to force yourself to do exercises that you find boring.
  • Find a partner. Exercising with a friend is more fun and will make it easier to maintain your routine.
  • Make it a routine. Schedule your workout at the same time every day, if possible, so exercising becomes a habit.
  • Reward yourself. Plan a series of non-food rewards for sticking to your exercise plan.
  • Set goals. Discuss realistic weight loss and cholesterol reduction goals with your doctor, and then try to meet them.
  • Write it down. Record your goals, progress and workout schedule. Seeing these things on paper can keep you focused.


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Fitness programs: 7 tips for staying motivated. Retrieved January 10, 2011, from

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). High cholesterol. Retrieved January 10, 2011, from

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2006). High cholesterol guide. Retrieved January 10, 2011, from