When you think about what pilates can do for your body, you probably think of the basics like more flexibility, aligned posture, and stronger muscles.
But did you know that a regular pilates practice can actually lower your cholesterol levels?
In order to effectively lower your cholesterol through pilates, however, you need to know how to do it properly and what to eat alongside your training regimen.
Here’s everything you should know about lowering cholesterol through pilates for a healthier, happier you!
How To Tell If You Have High Cholesterol
Before you start thinking about how to use pilates to lower cholesterol, you need to establish what your cholesterol levels actually are.
If you already have very low cholesterol, there’s no need to try and lower it further, although you should aim to keep your cholesterol low through a combination of diet and exercise.
However, confirming that your cholesterol levels are in the unhealthy range should spur you on to do something about it.
The only accurate way to find out whether you have high cholesterol is to have a blood test done to check your levels.
That’s because high cholesterol doesn’t produce any physical symptoms until it has progressed into one of many potentially serious conditions, which may include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, or peripheral vascular disease.
If you let your high cholesterol escalate to this point, you will not be able to manage your condition through diet and exercise alone and will need to undergo medical treatment.
Why You Should Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
If you have a blood test and it confirms that your cholesterol levels are above the optimal range, you should take steps to lower your cholesterol.
Your cholesterol levels are higher than optimal if you get a result above 200 mg total cholesterol or 100 mg LDL cholesterol.
Even if you’re just on the threshold of borderline-high cholesterol, it’s important to make lifestyle changes now to stop it from getting higher.
Bear in mind that your blood test results will also show your levels of HDL cholesterol, but this is considered ‘good’ cholesterol and having low levels of this can actually increase your risk of heart disease.
As mentioned above, if your cholesterol gets too high, it could lead to a number of dangerous health conditions, ranging from heart disease to diabetes.
Although making changes to your exercise routine and diet might sound like a lot of work, it’s better than having to take medication daily, follow a very strict low-calorie diet, or even undergo surgery.
Luckily, you don’t have to run miles every day and eat nothing but fruit and vegetables to lower your cholesterol.
Regular pilates sessions combined with a few tweaks to your diet can, as research has proven, effectively lower your cholesterol.
How Pilates Can Lower Cholesterol
The best way to lower your cholesterol levels is to have a healthy lifestyle, including regular moderate-intensity exercise and wholesome foods that are good for your heart.
One of the best forms of exercise to lower cholesterol is pilates, and this is the case for several reasons.
First of all, while getting out for a run or making your way to the gym can be easy to put off when you’re very tired or the weather is bad, pilates is something you can do from the comfort of your home.
It’s a time-efficient form of exercise that tones your muscles and boosts your cardiovascular function in just 45 minutes to an hour.
Secondly, pilates tends to be at least a medium-intensity form of exercise, while advanced classes can be even more intense.
This means that when you do a pilates class, you know that you’re pushing yourself hard enough to make a difference to your cholesterol levels.
Studies have shown that in addition to lowering the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in your body, pilates can also boost ‘good’ cholesterol levels as long as you practice consistently.
Since pilates helps to improve respiration, it’s very beneficial for the health of your heart, and the improved respiration will also help to lower your stress levels.
Stress is a contributing factor for high cholesterol, as multiple studies have indicated, so doing a form of exercise such as pilates which has been shown to reduce stress is one of the best things you can do to lower cholesterol.
There has also been some research to indicate that low or moderate-intensity resistance training can help to lower your total cholesterol levels, while high-intensity muscle workouts can boost your good cholesterol levels.
Pilates is a form of light resistance training that can range up to moderate resistance for more advanced classes, so if you do this regularly, your cholesterol may decrease.
That’s because resistance training improves your metabolism, which allows your cells to convert cholesterol into pregnenolone, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and other important hormones rather than allowing it to build up in your fat cells.
So, all the evidence demonstrates that pilates is an effective form of exercise for lowering cholesterol.
What To Eat To Lower Cholesterol With Pilates
Although pilates can definitely help to lower your cholesterol into a healthy range, even a rigorous pilates regimen won’t be so effective if you’re not eating right.
Certain foods are known to increase levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, while others can lower LDL cholesterol levels and even boost your levels of good cholesterol.
If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol through pilates, you should avoid processed meats and foods that are high in saturated fats such as full-fat dairy.
Fried foods should also be limited, as well as sweets, chocolate, and baked goods.
Even unprocessed red meat is high in both cholesterol and saturated fat, so you should try to avoid this food, too.
You can still eat certain high-cholesterol foods in moderation as long as they’re low in saturated fat.
For example, you can continue to eat lean, white meat such as chicken and turkey, eggs, and shellfish.
Just make sure not to overdo it on these because while they have a lot of benefits, they are still high in cholesterol.
Foods to prioritize if you’re trying to hit a healthy level of cholesterol are foods that are high in soluble fiber and contain healthy (polyunsaturated) fats as opposed to saturated fat.
These foods include oats, wholegrains, nuts, beans, pectin-rich fruits (citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, and grapes), soy, and fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, cod, and mackerel.
You can also take fiber supplements if advised to do so by your doctor as well as sterol and stanol-fortified foods.
Pilates, when combined in a high-soluble fiber diet that is low in cholesterol and saturated fats, is an effective way of lowering your cholesterol.
Pilates is beneficial for lowering cholesterol in several ways.
This moderate-intensity exercise can help you to maintain a healthy weight while the light-to-moderate intensity resistance training it provides for your muscles will increase your metabolism so that cholesterol can be converted into hormones rather than stored in fat cells.
Pilates also improves respiration, which helps to lower stress (a contributing factor to high cholesterol).
For the best results, practice pilates at least 3 times per week and stay consistent with your diet.