Daily Walks Improve Cholesterol Levels

With warming temperatures and more sunshine, it’s harder to find excuses not to lace up the shoes for a daily walk.  Regular moderate to vigorous exercise is not only beneficial for heart health, mobility, stress relief, and weight control, but recent studies have found that walking holds benefits for women who are concerned about their cholesterol levels. 

According to a recent McMaster Aging Portal blog post, a recent review of the effects of walking on lipid levels of overweight women found that walking can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.  The research excluded women talking lipid-lowering drugs such as statins.  The benefits of walking on LDL levels were seen even among women who did not participate in other diet or weight-loss interventions. 

Physical activity guidelines recommend getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate or vigorous exercise; these guidelines were in keeping with the activity levels recorded in the majority of the studies reviewed.  

Abnormal lipid levels are associated with an increased risk for heart disease and those who carry excess weight are more likely to have abnormal lipid levels such as high cholesterol.  Women, who are more likely to die from their first heart attack and to suffer heart failure after their first cardiovascular event, are more vulnerable to the effects of abnormal lipid levels. 

Adding a walking program to your daily routine is an easy and inexpensive way to improve physical function, lower blood pressure, drop excess body weight and keep lipid levels from becoming too high.  As always, talk with your doctor first before starting any new exercise program and work up to greater distance and intensity over time.  A walking partner and an activity tracker can help people stay on track and push them to walk a little faster and a little farther each week.