Excercise and Genetic Makeup

Sep 14, 2018
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Exercise can beat your genetic makeup for high cholesterol

High cholesterol has long since been known as a genetically predisposed health condition that can in fact be passed down from your mother and/ or father (and their parents, and their parent’s parents, etc.). More specifically, this condition is referred to as familial hypercholesterolemia. According to the American Heart Association (though often misdiagnosed), on average, 1 in 250 adults will have familial hypercholesterolemia. This may seem like a small number, however this means that just under one million individuals will have this inherited condition. That is a lot of people!

“So, why does this matter?”

Though recommendations for normal cholesterol levels can vary dependent on age and in some cases even gender, the average healthy adult ranges are:Total cholesterol < 200 mg/dLHDL > 59 mg/dLLDL < 100 mg/dL compared to the average healthy adult, an individual with familial hypercholestremia is born with high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and over time, these levels can increase. As a result, those with familial hypercholesterolemia have higher than average atherosclerttic plaque build up in the arteries which can lead to an increased likelihood of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. The good news is that this condition CAN IMPROVE. The FH Foundation encourages individuals with familial hypercholestremia to seek out a holistic plan including a low fat diet, no smoking, regular exercise and weight control alongside medication adherence. In fact, a 2002 study found that, “it appears that weekly exercise caloric expenditures that meet or exceed the higher end of this range are more likely to produce the desired lipid changes.”

In summary, give these quick exercise tips a try to improve your FH levels:

  1. Participate in moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise for AT LEAST thirty minutes at a time.
  2. Aim for 4+ days a week of cardiovascular exercise.
  3. Maintain a strength training regimen of 2 days a week for at least thirty minutes on top of cardio.

Other lifestyle tips to follow include:

  • Manage weight and stress.
  • Limit unhealthy fats in your diet.
  • Take medication, until or if your FH is managed.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Limit alcohol.

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