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does exercise lower cholesterol

Lower body exercise routine to help manage cholesterol

If you're looking to manage your levels of cholesterol, picking up a set of dumbbells could help

How does exercise manage cholesterol?

More glucose circulating in your bloodstream due to poor dietary choices and lifestyle can create excess fat stores in our bodies and increase cholesterol. Lowering your overall body fat, and consequently, your cholesterol can reduce your risk of developing plaques in our arteries.1 But what does this have to do with exercise, we hear you ask? Well, having more muscle means you have extra ways of removing glucose from your blood. Reductions in muscle mass as we age often occur more in our lower body than our upper bodies2, and our legs are the biggest muscles in our body. Your muscles can also utilise fats for fuel, so not only does more muscle make you better at taking glucose out of your blood, it makes you better at burning off fats too – win win!

Training your legs effectively is a fantastic way to build large amounts of muscle. The below exercises focus on compound training, which ensures you’re using as many muscles as possible.  Leg training also has the benefit of building strong abdominal muscles, so it is important to warm up the whole body before heavy leg exercises. Do some star jumps, jumping on the spot, and lunging from side to side for around 5 mins for a good warm-up.

This workout has been designed by our nutritionist Alex. Its aim is to help manage cholesterol through exercise and will focus on training as many muscles as possible with limited equipment and in a shortened time frame. All you'll need is two dumbells.

Exercise 1: ​Dumbbell Romanian deadlift

Repetitions: 10
Sets: 4

How to​:

  • From a standing position with feet hip-width apart grip the dumbbells tight in each hand and allow them to sit just below your hips
  • Imagine there is a button behind you that you want to press with your bum, there should be no movement at your knees as this is a hip extension exercise – keep those legs straight with a slight bend in the knees so you don’t ‘lock’ them
  • Keeping a straight back, bend forwards from the hips until the dumbbells get to around your mid-shin level and ‘pop’ back up to your original position – making sure to squeeze those glutes at the top

Exercise 2: Walking lunge

Repetitions: 12
Sets: 3

How to​:

  • This lunge can be static if you don't have much space
  • Keeping your back nice and straight while holding the dumbbells, take a step forward - putting as much weight as possible on the front foot, keeping your heel down
  • With your back leg, stay on your toes and lower your knee almost to the floor
  • Push back up to standing using your glutes and quads
  • Repeat with the other leg until you reach 12 reps per leg

Exercise 3 & 4:​ Superset: Calf raises +  Bulgarian split squats

These are two separate exercises and should be performed straight after one another for maximum results.

Repetitions: 10 (for each exercise)
Sets: 2 (for each exercise)

How to​:

  • For the calf raise, stand up straight with your feet together and dumbbells in each hand by your side. Push into your toes and lift your heels, hold for a few seconds and release the heel back down. Repeat
  • For the split squats, place one foot on an elevated surface, like a table, sofa or stair with the other leg out in front of you and dumbbells at your side.
  • Keeping the back leg still, lunge down on the front leg until your back knee touches the ground and come back up. Swap legs on the second set.

And you’re finished!

We hope you enjoyed that workout! Try and do this routine at least once per week. You can combine it with our upper body resistance training workout and full-body workout too. Try to walk often and include some cardio like this for an all-round great routine to help manage cholesterol

Want to make sure what you’re eating isn’t raising your cholesterol levels? Try some of these healthy meals for people watching their cholesterol:

Last updated: 23 September 2020

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