• Moderate Intensity Walking May Reduce Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio in Men With Hypercholesterolemia

    Hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. High levels of blood cholesterol contribute to plaque build-up and continued damage or blockage of blood vessels. Lifestyle changes are sometimes effective in decreasing cholesterol blood levels. Improvement in cholesterol includes decreasing overall cholesterol and increasing high density lipoproteins (HDL) or good cholesterol levels.
    Researchers at the University of West of England tested the current physical activity guidelines in its ability to improve cholesterol levels in men with current high cholesterol. The study, published in Preventative Medicine , found that the home program made significant changes in total cholesterol/HDL ratio and weight.

    About the Study

    Researchers recruited 67 men with high cholesterol. The men were randomly assigned to one of two groups. A control group received standard treatment. The trial group was assigned 12 weeks of brisk walking that would use at least 300 kcal each walk. Cholesterol levels and weight were taken at the start and end of the trial. At the end of the 12 weeks:
    • Total cholesterol/HDL ratio was significantly lower in the trial group.
    • The trial group lost more weight.
    • A decrease in triglycerides and an increase in HDLs in the trial group was found to be only borderline significant.
    There was a 97.6% compliance rate in the walking group.

    How Does This Affect You?

    Lack of physical activity is a known risk factor for heart disease. The short-term activity program followed here did show some benefit to improving cholesterol scores. The high compliance rate indicates that a basic walking program may be easy to manage.
    Develop a plan with your doctor to manage your cholesterol levels. Add preventative steps to keep your cholesterol at desired levels. Lifestyle changes may include:
    • A diet that decreases the levels of animal fats and cholesterol and increases special fats that improve good cholesterol (HDL)
    • Participating in regular physical activity

    RESOURCES

    American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/

    National Cholesterol Education Program http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/

    References

    Coghill N, Cooper AR. The effect of a home-based walking program on risk factors for coronary heart disease in hypercholesterolaemic men. A randomized controlled trial. Prev Med . 2008 Jun;46(6):545-51.

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