The Benefits of Running to Lower Cholesterol

Diet and exercise are two basic pillars to lower cholesterol levels. In this article, discover the benefits of running to lower cholesterol.
The Benefits of Running to Lower Cholesterol

Last update: 26 September, 2020

Many people worry about their lipid profile. In the past, an excess of HDL and LDL lipoproteins was associated with an increased cardiovascular risk. Nowadays, the association isn’t so clear. However, running has many benefits that can lower cholesterol, which could have a positive impact on the functioning of the circulatory system.

The most recent studies affirm that cholesterol oxidation itself generates a risk, not its presence in the arteries or veins. However, slightly lowering your LDL levels could be an effective strategy to decrease the rate of oxidation.

Is running to lower cholesterol an option?

Exercise has many health benefits. One of them is its ability to lower cholesterol, as an article in the journal Metabolism states. In fact, experts even suggest that the combination of intermittent fasting and running is more effective in modulating a person’s lipid profile than extreme caloric restriction.

When it comes to lowering cholesterol, strength training may be the most effective. Nevertheless, running and endurance training can also improve the body’s lipoproteins.

Despite everything, scientific literature revealed slightly contradictory results regarding this matter. Although aerobic activity is linked to a reduction of cardiovascular risk, not all studies evidence changes in cholesterol levels.

When running to lower your cholesterol, vary your pace

Experts have proven that to improve your health, it’s best to do strength exercises. For this reason, including changes in pace during your run can be beneficial. If you do this, your anaerobic metabolic pathways, responsible for an increase in caloric expenditure, activate.

A man running down the beach.

Varying your pace or running up hills will significantly increase your body’s production of hormones such as GH and testosterone. These substances have a direct effect on cholesterol levels. Precisely, they increase HDL lipoprotein, which is considered beneficial, and reduce LDL levels.

In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation showed that high-intensity interval training can improve the lipid profile of overweight people.

Complement running with your diet

To maximize the effects of running to lower cholesterol, it’s essential to follow a correct complementary diet. In this sense, it’s essential to restrict your consumption of ultra-processed foods, which are high in trans fats.

In addition, you should reduce your intake of sugar and other toxic substances such as alcohol. These nutrients, in addition to increasing LDL and total cholesterol, are capable of promoting inflammation and oxidation, which negatively affects cardiovascular health.

As we mentioned above, the practice of intermittent fasting is also effective in lowering the body’s cholesterol levels. In addition, this contributes to neutralizing systemic oxidation, which is the main culprit of complex diseases.

On the other hand, we should note that increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, may help to reduce your cholesterol levels. The main foods that contain this nutrient are oily fish, raw vegetable oils, and nuts.

A plate of white fish and salad.

Run for better health

As you’ve seen, exercise is an effective and essential tool to improve your cardiovascular health. Running can reduce cholesterol levels. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to vary your pace to activate anaerobic metabolism and hormone production.

Also, remember that your diet is a key factor in modulating your lipid profile. It’s important to restrict your consumption of ultra-processed foods and simple sugars, as well as alcohol. All of these substances increase your body’s inflammation and oxidation levels and can affect your health in the medium term.

However, don’t forget that, to a large extent, cholesterol is genetically determined. Although you can influence its levels with your diet and exercise, you can only do so to a certain extent. If you’re concerned about this issue, consult a specialist for more information.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Cho AR., Moon JY., Kim S., An KY., et al., Effects of alternate day fasting and exercise on cholesterol metabolism in overweight or obese adults: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Metabolims, 2019. 93: 52-60.
  • Salehi Z., Salehi K., Moeini M., Kargafard M., Sadeghi M., The effect of resistance exercise on lipid profile of coronary artery disease patients: a randomized clinical trial. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res, 2017. 22 (2): 112-116.
  • Khammassi M., Ouerghi N., Hadj Taleb S., Feki M., et al., Impact of a 12 week high intensity interval training without caloric restriction on body composition and lipid profile in sedentary healthy overweight/obese youth. J Exerc Rehabil, 2018. 14 (1): 118-125.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.