In the period between 2013-2016, nearly 12 million adults over 20 years old in the US had dangerously high cholesterol levels, with may more in the borderline high zone. Although progress is being made, cholesterol remains a problem for a huge number of people. Getting active is an essential way to help solve or reduce the many health problems that are exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle.
If you’re affected by high cholesterol and you’re not particularly sporty, you’re probably wondering can something as basic as walking reduce cholesterol? Let’s take a look at what cholesterol is and how the benefits provided by regular walking can help. Why walking? Well, if you ever wanted to get started on an exercise plan to improve you help, there is no easier doorway than to start walking regularly!
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is the name given to a fatty substance that our bodies produce or that is found in certain types of food. Not all cholesterol is bad and we all need cholesterol as it is essential to keep our bodies functioning. However, when cholesterol levels get too high they can cause problems and exacerbate other conditions, often leading to fatalities. It is recommended you get your cholesterol levels checked every four to six years.
Can Walking Reduce Cholesterol?
Walking, along with any other form of exercise, can reduce cholesterol. The Surgeon General recommends that all adults exercise at a moderate intensity for two and a half hours per week. This can help to prevent many other problems associated with a lack of exercise that can also become exacerbated by cholesterol.
Cholesterol causes problems by blocking the arteries and can significantly increase your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke. Regular walking is an exercise that has been proven to reduce cholesterol levels and the associated risks. By exercising regularly your body will start to increase levels of HDL, also known as the “good cholesterol”. HDL removes fatty deposits from your blood stream, where they risk clogging up the arteries, and transports them to the liver. There they will be broken down and go on to be expelled from the body.
Walking regularly will also help you to keep your weight down, by burning extra calories. This is especially important if you have high cholesterol levels as being overweight can cause the amount of unhealthy cholesterol in your blood to increase. Furthermore, walking has been proven to reduce high blood pressure and this will additionally help to keep your blood vessels and heart in excellent shape, further reducing the risk of a heart attack.
Why Walking Over Other Sports?
If you suffer from high cholesterol levels, regular walking is an excellent way to help reduce them. Although other sports will be of equal or even greater value, walking is something that can easily become a part of your every day schedule, making targets easier for a greater number of people to achieve.
Walking is free and something we can almost all do without needing to acquire any specialist skills. Of course, if other activities take your fancy, then go for it. For those struggling to find an effective way to lower cholesterol, walking offers a gentle way to get started.
Aside from incorporating walking into your daily schedule, such as walking to work if possible, walking to the shops, taking the stairs, walking to complete errands, it’s also important to go for longer more purposeful walks as your stamina increases.
Over time as you feel increasingly comfortable walking further and longer it may be time to increase your intensity. Walking faster will increase your aerobic fitness and provide a better workout. To increase your fitness level and further reduce your cholesterol levels, without going to the gym or trying out another sport, hiking might be for you.
Getting Started Hiking
Hiking offers all the benefits of walking and more. As opposed to walking, hiking usually involves longer, set distances along a specific trail across countryside. This gives you a target and often helps to rapidly improve fitness levels thereby reducing cholesterol. By keeping up regular walking you will be in good shape for weekend hiking, so you should be able to get off to a good start
Planning is important. Although walking round the block and on errands might have been getting pretty boring, there’s a lot we take for granted when we’re in the middle of civilization. When you’re on a hike, even just for two or three hours, you’ll need to plan ahead and take a small daypack with a couple of emergency items, water and extra layers of clothing as needed.
To start with you can use the same footwear as you use for walking, although over time you may wish to upgrade to a pair of hiking boots for more support and to cover a wider range of terrain. Steep gradients, rocky ground, and walking on sand will all help to lower your cholesterol levels, burn up calories and workout your muscles. The longer and more difficult the trail, the more you’ll improve. Just don’t forget to start off slow and know your limits. This will keep things enjoyable and manageable.
Hiking will not only help lower your cholesterol levels and keep you fit and healthy, it will also improve your stress levels and pick up your mood. Spending time outdoors in natural settings has been proven to be important for mental health, especially in our increasingly ever connected world. By hiking to improve your physical health you can also improve your sense of well-being and mindfulness at the same time.
It’s also a great way to explore the country, make new acquaintances, discover wildlife and the beauty of nature. In reducing your cholesterol, you could also discover much more to life than you could from a gym or a sports class. In summary, the benefits of hiking are many.
So, can walking reduce cholesterol? Without a doubt, provided it’s regular and undertaken with some level of intensity. Walking is one of the best ways you can incorporate losing cholesterol into your lifestyle. This ensures that once you’ve reduced your levels they will stay down there at a healthy level. It’s easy to get started, costs you nothing and you will most likely enjoy the process.
when you are comfortable with walking regularly, you may want to expand on your regular walking activities by expanding into hiking. As mentioned above, hiking can help provide a greater physical workout and will keep you interested, allowing you to explore different areas of the country. It will also increase your general sense of well-being and appreciation of the great outdoors. Overall, it’s a win-win 🙂
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