Cholesterol and Exercise – How to Manage Your Numbers Naturally

Cholesterol and Exercise – How to Manage Your Numbers Naturally

(Evidence Based)

Does Exercise Help Manage Cholesterol?

Typically, we might hear that changing our dietary habits is the key to reducing bad cholesterol and to increasing good cholesterol. However, studies have shown that exercise also plays an important role in cholesterol management. 

Combining proper nutrition and regular exercise is the key to healthy cholesterol numbers. 

The research appears to disagree on whether the frequency or intensity of the exercise is important to improving cholesterol. However, the consensus lies in the duration of exercise.  

From Kodama and colleagues’ review of over 25 studies, all seem to agree that regular aerobic exercise, performed for a longer amount of time per session, is what will lead to improvement in overall cholesterol levels. 

What are HDLs and LDLs? 

Before we dive in, let’s take a moment to talk about some of the key terms we’ll be using. 

LDL – Low-Density Lipoprotein is what’s commonly termed “bad cholesterol.” High levels of this stuff are what put you at risk for cardiovascular complications

HDL – High-Density Lipoprotein is what we like to call “good cholesterol.” This is what carries bad cholesterol and triglycerides to the liver in order to get rid of them. 

Triglyceride – These come from the fats you consume. Like LDL, a high amount of triglyceride is also linked to cardiovascular disease

What Can Exercise Do for Cholesterol? 

A study on activity and cholesterol found that physically active individuals had lower levels of LDL and Triglyceride, and higher levels of HDL, than individuals who lived a sedentary (non-active) lifestyle. 

The levels of activity among the participants were mixed. This means that low, moderate, and high intensity exercises all made a difference. This is great news for people who are afraid to start exercising for fear they aren’t “fit enough” to exercise. If this is you, read our post on The Common Misconception of Getting Fit Before Joining a Gym

Exercises You Can You Do to Lower LDLs and Raise HDLs 

Regardless of our suggestions, you should choose an exercise that you can comfortably do for extended periods of time. It may also be necessary to have your doctor monitor how your heart responds to any new exercise routine.  

The American Heart Association recommends about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week (that’s about 30 minutes a day if you’re working out 5 days a week), or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.  

You can mix and match different amounts of moderate and vigorous exercise. The idea is to aim for some amount of time in the AHA’s general ballpark and work your way to a level that feels good for you.  

Aerobics

Aerobic exercises include activities like jogging, running, swimming, bicycling, dancing, and others that elevate your heart rate. 

To effect cholesterol, one study suggests that an effective level of weekly exercise is approximately 17 to 18 miles of jogging at a moderate pace. If that’s too much, 11 miles is still effective but to a lesser degree.  

If 30 minutes a day sounds a bit vague, this jogging recommendation may give you a more focused perspective on how much exercise you should aim for.  

Low to Moderate Intensity Resistance Training 

Resistance training may involve the use of objects, like dumbbells, or your own body weight to improve your muscle strength, tone, mass, or endurance. Examples include lifting free weights, bench press, deadlift, squats, lunges, and more. 

A review conducted by Mann and colleagues investigates the effects of resistance training on cholesterol. Their findings suggested that low to moderate intensity workouts were just as effective as high-intensity workouts! More good news! 

This type of exercise can be done independently to improve cholesterol or be paired with aerobic exercise. 

Conclusions

Long story short: 

  1. Regular exercise, performed for extended periods of time, is the big game changer
  2. Cardio and resistance training are shown to improve cholesterol
  3. It’s more about quality than quantity

To learn from our Registered Dietician, Debbie James, about how to lower cholesterol with the right food choices, read the answers to her Q&As on low carb and low fat diets and cholesterol friendly foods. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!

Sources

  1. “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids.” Www.heart.org, 2018, www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults.

     

  2. Kodama, Satoru, et al. “Effect of Aerobic Exercise Training on Serum Levels of High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol.” Archives of Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, 28 May 2007, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/486847.

     

  3. Kraus, William E, et al. “Effects of the Amount and Intensity of Exercise on Plasma Lipoproteins: NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, 2002, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa020194#t=article.

     

  4. Mann, Steven, et al. “Differential Effects of Aerobic Exercise, Resistance Training and Combined Exercise Modalities on Cholesterol and the Lipid Profile: Review, Synthesis and Recommendations.” SpringerLink, Springer International Publishing, 31 Oct. 2013, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-013-0110-5.

     

  5. Skoumas, John, et al. “Physical Activity, High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Other Lipids Levels, in Men and Women from the ATTICA Study.” Lipids in Health and Disease, BioMed Central, 12 June 2003, lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-511X-2-3.
Why Metabolism Declines With Age (And How to Reverse It!) – Podcast Ep. 29

Why Metabolism Declines With Age (And How to Reverse It!) – Podcast Ep. 29


Welcome to the 29th episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

On this episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, Debbie James, RDN, talks metabolism. Why does metabolism decrease as we age and how can we prevent or reverse this? All this and more on this week’s episode!

How Are We Doing? 


This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.


Timecard Markers – Why Metabolism Declines with Age – Podcast Ep. 29 

Intro     

Begins at 0:01      

Introduction of LAF Registered Dietitian, Debbie James   

0:38  

What is Metabolism?  

0:58   

At What Age Does Metabolism Start Slowing Down?  

3:24 

Are There Ways to Help Stop Metabolism from Declining?  

3:47 

What Are Some Ways to Help Increase Your Metabolic Rate? 

6:25 

When Does Bone Mass Start Declining? 

9:20 

Is There a Way to Measure Your Metabolism? Should This Be Measured? 

9:51 

Are There Certain Foods That Help Increase/Speed Up Metabolism?  

12:32 

Are There Foods You Should Stay Away From? 

14:20 

Andrew’s Sidebar Side Salad Segment  

15:10 

What Outside Factors Affect Metabolism? How Does Stress Play a Role? 

18:48 

Does Someone with a High Metabolism Have More Energy? 

20:10 

Is There a Certain Type of Exercise That’s Best for Increasing Metabolism?  

22:46 

Green Tea and EGCG – Does This Really Help Increase Calorie Expenditure?  

23:38 

Actionable Advice 

25:13 

Outro 

27:00 


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Protect Your Skin This Summer with These 10 Tips

Protect Your Skin This Summer with These 10 Tips

Cue the Beach Boys music, grab your surfboard, and get ready for some sun-kissed skin and long summer nights!

Summer is just around the corner, and while most of us have been working hard to get beach body ready, it’s just as important to make sure our skin is summer sun-ready.

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can not only cause pain-inducing sunburns, but they can prematurely age the skin! This can leave behind wrinkles, a loss of skin elasticity, and reverse all the hard work you’ve put into maintaining a youthful appearance – but fear not. We have a solution.

10 Tips to Save Your Skin from Sun Damage

  1. Sunscreen. Yup, this is probably the most common knowledge of them all, but how do you know which SPF to use? A higher sun protection factor (SPF) (think SPF 30 and above) will generally better help prevent sunburn and protect against skin cancer.
  2. UVA vs. UVB. There are two different types of sun rays that can cause skin damage, long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short-wave ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays can penetrate deep into the skin’s thickest layer, while UVB rays usually burn the top layers of the skin. Make sure you’re using a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays (30+).
  3. Check out your shadow. Have you heard of the Shadow Rule? If your shadow is shorter than you the sun’s rays are typically at their strongest, so you should try to find shade to avoid excess skin damage.
  4. WARNING: Did you know that some medications directly interact with direct sunlight? These medications can include certain types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, antifungals, blood pressure meds, and chemotherapy drugs. Not sure if your prescription makes the list? Check out the label on your medicine bottle. There should be a prominently displayed caution, if necessary.
  5. Cover up. We understand that you want to soak in those sweet warm rays (and hey, a tan wouldn’t be too bad either), but you may want to accessorize that bikini or swim trunks with a hat, sunglasses, or additional clothing. These extra pieces can help protect your body from damaging rays. And, don’t forget to wear sunglasses with lenses that have a high level (99% to 100%) UV protection to provide extra safety for your eyes and the surrounding skin around them.
  6. Beware water and sand. Yes, it’s summertime, so chances are you’re not going to avoid the beach altogether but be wary about too much time exposed to the water and sand. These surfaces can reflect the sun’s rays which can lead to a lobster-like sunburn. Not fun for anyone.
  7. Reapply. Sunscreen is not a one-and-done type of protection plan. For optimum protection, WebMD suggests reapplying at least every 80 minutes or sooner if you’re swimming or sweating a lot. And with the hot weather, we’re guessing you will be.
  8. Check the time. Did you know that the sun’s UVB rays are the strongest between 10AM and 4PM? Try to limit your time in the direct sunlight during these hours.
  9. Rub, don’t spray. Spray sunscreens are great, but if you don’t take the time to fully rub in the sunscreen you could be missing areas of your body that you thought you had covered. Not to mention that you may also be left with streak lines that will become noticeable if areas around the line burn from lack of sun protection.
  10. Invest in a Sun Sensor. Did you know there are sun sensors out on the market that you can easily stick onto your skin and they measure your exposure to the sun? These super helpful little stickers let you know via a connected app when you should find some shade and tracks your exposure to UV over time. Check out this article from Allure to see what they suggest.

Have fun this summer and use these tips to help protect you and your loved ones from unneeded sun damage.  

How do you and your family and friends plan on spending your summer time? Share your comments with us in the section below!

References:

  1. Bauer, Amber. “10 Tips for Protecting Your Skin from the Sun.” Cancer.Net, 30 July 2018, cancer.net/blog/2015-07/10-tips-protecting-your-skin-sun.
  2. “How To Protect Your Skin From the Sun.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/how-to-choose-susncreen#1.
  3. Rosenstein, Jenna. “7 Ways to Protect Your Skin From the Sun.” Allure, Allure, 8 Aug. 2016, www.allure.com/gallery/how-to-protect-your-skin-from-the-sun.

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NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – Podcast Ep. 24

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – Podcast Ep. 24


Welcome to the 24th episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

On this episode of Living Healthy, we speak with Rachel Robins, Manager of PR and External Relations at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). LA Fitness has partnered for its second year with NAMI to help bring awareness to mental health throughout the month of May. 

Please visit http://lafitnesscares.com/mental-health-awareness/ for more information. 

You can also read more about Rachel Robins Mental Health Spotlight story by clicking here

How Are We Doing? 


This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.


Timecard Markers – NAMI – Podcast Ep. 24

Intro     

Begins at 0:01     

Rachel Robins, Manager of PR and External Relations at NAMI, joins the show     

Begins at 0:30    

How Fitness Has Impacted Rachel’s Life 

0:43 

A Background on NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) 

1:36 

What Mental Health Means to NAMI 

2:40 

The Rise of Mental Health Awareness 

3:50 

The #WhyCare? Campaign 

5:15   

How Exercise Helps with Mental Health 

5:46 

Stigmatized Thoughts About Mental Illness – And How to Fix This  

7:04 

Using Inclusive Language 

8:06 

NAMI Walks 

9:12 

Where Can People Go for Help – NAMI Helpline (1-800-950-6264) 

10:20 

How You Help A Friend or Family Member with a Mental Health Condition  

13:17 

Mental Healthcare 

15:20 

How to Get Involved with NAMI – Donations and Where They Go 

17:13 

Actionable Advice 

19:54 

Outro   

20:22 


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How Fitness Improved My Mental Health

How Fitness Improved My Mental Health

“If you have a mental health condition, you’re not alone. One in 5 American adults experiences some form of mental illness in any given year. Every year people overcome the challenges of mental illness to do the things they enjoy. Through developing and following a treatment plan, you can dramatically reduce many of your symptoms. People with mental health conditions can and do pursue higher education, succeed in their careers, make friends and have relationships. Mental illness can slow us down, but we don’t need to let it stop us.”

Rachel Robins

Manager of PR and External Relations at NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with two things in life: my weight and my mental health.  

After moving from New Jersey to Florida at seven years old, I started seeing a mental health professional. I was labeled as the new girl, a title I’m not sure I’ve shed; always struggling to fit in and be accepted. That summer, my dad drove my brother and I to camp, and he had to drag me out of the car. Once I was out, I would throw myself on the ground stomping my feet on the pavement not caring who saw my temper tantrum. You could say I didn’t adjust well to the “Sunshine State.”   

In third grade, I remember getting on the scale at school and seeing a three-digit number and then hearing that number repeated down the hall.  

My pediatrician suggested attending his weekend fitness class. It was the exact opposite of what I wanted to do on a Saturday. I hated sweating. It was sticky, hot, smelly and uncomfortable. If working out equaled sweat, I wanted nothing to do with it. This is why physical education class and recess was a miserable experience for me. The Florida sun ensured I was always sweaty. And on top of it, I was the slowest runner and always got picked last. I become constantly worried that I would disappoint my team or the other kids would laugh at me.  

At the time, I didn’t understand the pit in my stomach wasn’t just hunger—it was anxiety. I was afraid of being different. Anxious thoughts would flood my mind. “What would people say about my weight?” “How am I ever going to fit in?” “Why don’t I look more like everyone else?”  

For the rest of my childhood and college years, I associated fitness with anxiety. I was also simultaneously struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. These factors led me to avoid exercise entirely. Little did I know how big of a role fitness was going to play in my battle against mental illness.  

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Fitness Helped Me Cope  

When I was 29, I made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and work out at least four to five times a week. For me to finally reach my weight goal, I had to squash my body insecurities and reverse how I felt towards fitness. I was doing quite well with both goals up until June. That’s when the depression crept in. I was still reeling from a breakup months past. I turned 30, an age I had been dreading for the past decade. I was unemployed. Curled up in a ball, I would cry and think it would be easier for everyone if I wasn’t there. I wanted the pain to stop.  

I wanted more control over my own life. No matter how many positions I applied for, I couldn’t control which companies would interview me or offer me a job. Nor could I make my former boyfriend love and care about me. But I had the power to decide if I worked out that day. So, I made a promise with myself. “Rachel, if you leave your apartment and go to a fitness class, then you can mope and feel sorry about yourself the rest of the day.”  

As much as I dislike the actual act of working out, I always left the gym in a better mood. I felt accomplished in that moment and not like the “loser” I had become in my mind. In the face of adversity, I was doing something, even if it took every ounce of energy to get myself there. The endorphins kept me going during those dark days.  

Now, I have a job and am grateful to have somewhere to go every day. I’m still not over my breakup and there are days where I have no idea what my purpose in life is. I’m nowhere near where I expected to be at this stage of my life, but I’m finally willing to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. 

My fitness renaissance has led to me rock climbing, surfing on the Atlantic Ocean, stand-up paddle boarding on the Hudson River and doing yoga in the middle of Times Square. I’m still insecure. I still battle my mental illnesses daily. But now the gym is my haven—a place where I am a superhero—a place that saved my life.  

Visit nami.org for additional treatment options and to learn how to find support in your community. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7 or text NAMI to 741-741. 

Rachel Robins is the Manager of PR and External Relations at NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. A new resident of Washington D.C., but a Southerner at heart, you can probably find her at the local barre (class).  

Disclaimer: Slight edits may have been made to original copy for grammatical corrections and/or clarity. 

 

Surf Photo – October 2016

Hike Photo – November 2017

Infographic provided by NAMI. 


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