What is Cholesterol and Dyslipidemia?
Cholesterol is a type of molecule that is essential to the function of the human body. As with most things, there is an appropriate level of cholesterol that is ideal for the human body to function properly. Dyslipidaemia refers to a situation where the balance of cholesterol is inappropriate for optimal function of the human body.
Dyslipidaemia can include one or more of the following:
• Increased levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL)
• Increased levels of triglycerides
• Reduced levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL)
Dyslipidaemia can contribute to atherosclerosis, which is damage to blood vessel walls that can lead to heart disease and stroke. Too much “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood can cause fatty build-ups in the artery walls (plaque), whereas increased levels of “Good” HDL cholesterol can reduce that fatty build up in the blood and clear away some of that plaque from the artery wall. High triglycerides are also considered to be a problem, particularly when linked to high LDL or low HDL cholesterol.
What do the numbers mean in my blood test report?
What type of exercise should I be doing for my high cholesterol?
As a general guide, you should be aiming to meet the Australian general physical activity guidelines, which is 30-60min of moderate exercise most days per week. Try and gradually increase your duration until you are comfortably achieving 60 minutes rather than 30 minutes, as this will help to maximise weight loss.
In addition to this, it is also recommended that you include 30 minutes of resistance exercises (strengthening) on two days per week.
Including both types of exercise is important to maximise the benefits on your cholesterol and general health. Each person is different so we recommend consulting with one of our exercise physiologists to develop an exercise plan, but in general the aerobic and resistance exercise components should follow these guidelines:
Aerobic exercise for dyslipidaemia:
• Which type of activity? Any moderate intensity activities that increase your heart and breathing rate. These can include brisk walking, swimming, light jogging, cycling and/or dancing. Moderate intensity means that you can hold a conversation but get breathless when attempting to sing or whistle.
• How often? Aim for at least 5 days per week.
• How much? Aiming for 60 minutes, but starting at 30 minutes or less if you are new to exercise.
Resistance exercise for dyslipidaemia:
• Which type of activity? Resistance exercises that use your large muscle groups. These can include bodyweight exercises, free weights, machine weights and/or resistance band exercises.
• How often? Aim for at least 2 days per week, on non-consecutive days.
• How much? Aim to perform 8-10 exercises in a session. Complete 2-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions per exercise. This should take you no more than 30 minutes.
What should I consider about my eating to maximise my cholesterol improvements?
• Limit foods high in saturated and trans-saturated fats.
• Choose healthier fats in the diet (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated).
• Include more fibre-rich foods (vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, legumes, cereals).
• Limit alcohol.
• Stop smoking.
A registered dietitian can help you with a specific plan that suits your needs and lifestyle.