“Candice, I went to doctor recently and he told to continue whatever I’m doing because my high cholesterol is managed! I told him, the only change I did was attending Pilates classes thrice a week at Pilates Fitness. I’m so happy that my bad cholesterol levels went down!” Chirped a happy client (let’s call her Client A) at the end of her Pilates class.
In the past few months, I spent a lot of time at the front desk or covering Pilates classes as the team takes turn to go on leave. I always treasure these extra hours as it provides me a chance to interact directly with my clients and learn more about them as individuals. In fact, what Client A experienced is medically proven. Pilates can lower high cholesterol levels. There was a study released by Journal of Exercise, Nutrition & Biochemistry (2014; 18 , 267–75) that shows that consistent Pilates classes may help people to improve “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Recently, I’ve paid more attention to incurable but non-terminal diseases such as high cholesterol levels, diabetes and high blood pressure. Although these medical conditions can be managed and may not be terminal, one who has any of these medical conditions will need to lead a structured lifestyle of daily medications, diets and regular medical checks. Prevention is better than cure – in this case, there is no cure.
What Is Healthy Cholesterol Level?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance also known as lipid that your body requires for many functions, including the production of new cells. Your body can produce cholesterol or you can get it from the foods you eat.
Anyone 20 years old or older need to check on his/her cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. You can go for a blood test call Lipoprotein Panel to measure your cholesterol levels:
- Total cholesterol –a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
- LDL (bad) cholesterol–the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
- HDL (good) cholesterol–HDL helps remove cholesterol from your arteries
- Triglycerides–another form of fat in your blood that can raise your risk for heart disease
|Total Cholesterol Level||Category|
|Less than 200mg/dL||Desirable|
|200-239 mg/dL||Borderline high|
|240mg/dL and above||High|
|LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Level||LDL Cholesterol Category|
|Less than 100mg/dL||Optimal|
|100-129mg/dL||Near optimal/above optimal|
|130-159 mg/dL||Borderline high|
|190 mg/dL and above||Very High|
|HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level||HDL Cholesterol Category|
|Less than 40 mg/dL||A major risk factor for heart disease|
|40—59 mg/dL||The higher, the better|
|60 mg/dL and higher||Considered protective against heart disease|
Source: NIH Medline Plus
What Are The Symptoms Of High Cholesterol Levels?
The reason why we need to do regular test of our cholesterol levels is that having high cholesterol levels does not give rise to any symptoms. As such, you may be a sufferer of high cholesterol levels and not know about it until it escalated into something more serious such as coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. You can also read more about other issues associated with high cholesterol levels here.
What Are The Foods High In Bad Cholesterol Levels?
Foods high in saturated fats (fats from animal sources) or trans fats (fats from processed food) would increase your cholesterol levels.
Some examples are:
- Saturated Fats – Lard, shortening, butter, cheese, Animal fats, Coconut and palm oils, Meats, poultry etc
- Processed foods – Baked goods, cookies, chips, Products with hydrogenated fats, Fried foods, Margarines, spreads
Think of cholesterol as a salted egg bun – the salted egg center is the cholesterol, the bun on the outside is the protein carrier that carries the molecule through the blood. The molecule that the salted egg bun carries is called a lipoprotein and it can be either low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (bad cholesterol) or high-density (HDL) (good cholesterol).
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or the bad cholesterol has more salted egg center and smaller proportion of bun and vice versa. “The good cholesterol molecule prevents the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries whereas the cholesterol molecule leads to buildup, and eventual blockage, of your arteries.”
How To Lower High Cholesterol Levels?
The magical chant is the same for all incurable diseases – exercise, healthy diet and maintain healthy weight for your height. The issue is not how. The issue is what and where. What exercise should you choose? What should you eat? Where can you do them?
Pilates classes at Pilates Fitness are more effective in increasing the “good” HDL cholesterol levels because all Pilates Fitness classes are of medium to high intensity and provide both resistant and cardiovascular training. To the modern office warriors – Pilates classes at Pilates Fitness are extremely time efficient. You only need to do one hour of Pilates to complete 2 tasks that you normally need 2 hours to complete – tone your muscles and perform cardiovascular exercises. In fact, the slowest class such as the Core and Body Aches Pilates classes at Pilates Fitness can be benchmarked against intermediate classes at other Pilates studios. Our full time Pilates instructors are trained in a way to conduct these Pilates classes safely so that you enjoy greater benefit at a shorter time. In addition, Pilates provides more than the fitness benefits – Pilates corrects your posture and teaches your body how to move effectively, thereby reducing muscle tension and body aches.
Lastly, we all know that there are many things that we should do but it is difficult to ensure we do that – too many temptations! It is easy to get distracted with the issues of life and discontinue regular exercise. Hence in order to reduce your bad cholesterol levels, it is important to 1) find an exercise that you enjoy and 2) ensure that you can exercise in close proximity to your work or home. If you enjoy the activity and it is close to your work/home, it is easier to clock in 150 minutes of mid to high intensity exercise a week.
See you in the next Flow Pilates Class!