Saturday, July 30, 2011

My recipe for reducing cholesterol

I have to be honest, I didn’t intend it to turn out this way, but that is the most plausible explanation I can come up with for a reduction of about 20% in my cholesterol levels. Over the past 6 months or so, I have been running ( check out a few blogs about it: http://alberto-albertosblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/am-i-in-best-shape-of-my-life-at-age-45.html ) and i have been competing against myself ( http://alberto-albertosblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/it-pays-off-to-plan-ahead-your-running.html ) and also joking about things I come across along those months of running ( http://alberto-albertosblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/does-iphone-impact-performance.html )
Looking back, I have come a long way for a guy my age and lifestyle (a lucky, healthy couch potato): started running, hurt and overcome muscle injury, got a few breakthroughs in my running (from running-walking combination in the beginning, to completing the entire loop running for about 65 minutes, to just below 60 min, then to about 55, then to little less than 53, and today, 0:4922!!! Every breakthrough is a stimulus to try it again another time and try to do it better.
I’ve always said that exercise should be a part of a balanced life. Exercise provides a sense of confidence. I guess the reason is the endorphin secretion that takes place when demanding the body to make that physical effort. Right after running, your worries may not be completely dissipated but at least they don’t seem as bad. Your brain should also have its share of extra benefit as usually after exercising, ideas tend to come clearer. Because of this, exercising is a great tool to fight depression and also build self confidence, two well known facts about its benefits.
But that is not all! Cholesterol can also be lowered by consistent exercise. I have been taking a blood chemistry profile every year, at about the same time for three years now. I just got the results and I was in disbelief. My first year showed I was border line with cholesterol levels. I didn’t worry much about it. The second year, my cholesterol level went above the upper limit considered as normal and I got a little concerned but didn’t do much either. I had started a while before that second test, to watch closer what I was eating as well as how much, but not necessarily with enough discipline to say no to the occasional burger or certainly the summer weekend barbeques and grills. I continued on the same path about eating and have also tried to eat a little more consistently fruits and vegetables (not that I didn’t do before by the way). However the one thing that I have done much more different before my third test was the exercising part. This spring and summer have been about running and that is the only explanation I can come up with for such a reduction of cholesterol levels: about 20% which brings me back to the “safety” range. There is no scientific trial behind my conclusion but I am convinced that is the reason. Besides, the scientific literature backs me up and says even more (most times, exercise is more consistent and efficacious than other strategies at lowering cholesterol.)

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