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Exercise & High Cholesterol

Hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol) is an excess of lipids or fats in your blood. This can increase your risk of a heart attack and stroke because blood can’t flow through your arteries easily.


The liver produces cholesterol, and it is used to help you digest food and make hormones. You can also consume cholesterol in some foods. Foods that are higher in dietary fat can also make your liver produce more cholesterol.


Too much cholesterol is bad because it creates roadblocks in your arteries. This can result in organ damage due to them not receiving enough blood from your arteries.


There are 5 types of cholesterol: LDL, HDL, total cholesterol, triglycerides and VLDL. Too much LDL cholesterol can be bad as it sticks to the walls of your arteries, which can prevent blood from flowing properly to your heart. HDL is a good cholesterol as it carries LDL away to be broken down.

cholesterol in blood vessel.webp

Cholesterol Targets


  • Total cholesterol < 5.5 mmol/L (general population)

  • Total cholesterol < 4.0 mmol/L (individuals at high risk)

  • LDL < 2.0 mmol/L (general population)

  • LDL < 1.8 mmol/L (individuals at high risk)

  • Triglycerides < 2.0 mmol/L

  • HDL > 1.0 mmol/L


Risk Factors


  • Age

  • Family history

  • Inactivity

  • Obesity

  • Poor diet

  • High blood pressure

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Smoking history

  • High alcohol consumption


Benefits of Exercise

  • Exercise has been shown to activate the enzyme responsible for developing HDL’s. This means that the HDL’s reduce the amount of LDL’s in the blood reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Aerobic exercise use lipids as a form of energy, which can assist in reducing LDL levels.

  • Exercise can help to increase the HDL cholesterol levels and lower the triglyceride levels.

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