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Demonizing Cholesterol: Is It Really That Bad?  


Americans are afraid of cholesterol. And with good reason. For years, we’ve received the message that cholesterol is a silent killer, clogging our arteries and causing life-threatening disease. To be sure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 12.1 percent of adults over age 20 have high serum total cholesterol. Meanwhile, NCHPAD estimates that nearly half of the adult population has hypercholesteremia.

Yet is it as bad as doctors have long said?

Unfortunately, yes.

Then again, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of having high cholesterol, including participating in athletic therapy, making nutritional changes, and adjusting certain lifestyle habits. Here, we provide an overview of the dangers of having high cholesterol, as well as an overview of how physical therapy can reduce your risk.

Why High Cholesterol is a Problem

High cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis, a dangerous accumulation of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of the arteries. This can reduce blood flow to a person’s arteries, thereby causing complications including:

  • Heart attack: When plaque forms around your heart, it may rupture or tear, thereby blocking the flow of blood or plugging an artery downstream
  • Chest pain: When the arteries that provide your heart with blood become impacted, you may feel chest pains and other symptoms of coronary artery disease
  • Stroke: Like with a heart attack, if blood flow to part of your brain is blocked, you suffer from a stroke

Sports Medicine and Cholesterol

Although an increase in exercise can have minimal impact on lowering LDL and total cholesterol, it can lessen triglycerides and increase the amount of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Professionals in physical therapy can play a significant role in helping you attain healthier amounts of cholesterol by advising you of proper exercise routines and overseeing your use of sports medicine. The American College of Sports Medicine indicates that people with elevated cholesterol should exercise at least 5 days per week to maximize caloric expenditure for 30-60 minutes per day. By losing fat and building muscle, your numbers will likely improve.

Research suggests that people engage in aerobic and resistance training in order reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, when it comes to athletic therapy, all things are not equal. Everyone should maintain an exercise routine specific to their physical needs and abilities.

Someone trained in physical therapy can look at your health holistically in order to help you devise a routine that is optimum for your needs. They can assess the types and amount of exercise necessary for you to successfully reduce your cholesterol numbers without overextending yourself.


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