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Healthy Heart Reports

How Exercise Affects Blood Fat Levels


Regular exercise may help to prevent heart attacks by lowering insulin levels. When you eat, blood sugar levels rise and the higher they rise, the more insulin is released by your pancreas. You need insulin to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high, but it constricts arteries to cause heart attacks. Exercise uses up muscle sugar called glycogen so that when you eat, blood sugar goes into empty muscles. This keeps blood sugar levels from rising too high and bringing out extra insulin.

High blood levels of insulin lower the good HDL cholesterol and raise triglycerides, but do not affect the bad LDL cholesterol levels. Exercise does the opposite by lowering insulin levels and does not lower blood bad LDL cholesterol levels. Even if you are not diabetic or otherwise concerned with high blood sugar levels, you can benefit from a regular exercise program that lowers blood insulin levels. The best program includes alternating an upper body exercise such as swimming and a lower one such as jogging. Alternating muscle groups allows your muscles to feel fresh each day and helps to prevent injuries.

AE Hardman. Role of exercise and weight loss in maximizing LDL cholesterol reduction. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss S, pp

Copyright 2003
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

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