High cholesterol: Stop wasting time in the gym – 1 exercise for 1 hour a week reduces risk

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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When it comes to reducing your cholesterol levels, the type of exercise you do is more important than how often you do it. Life’s too short to spend all your time in the gym, so make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts. Express.co.uk brings you an exclusive – and easy – workout from Arj Thiruchelvam, a fitness coach who has worked with Team GB athletes.

The British Heart Foundation says high levels of cholesterol are linked to a quarter of all deaths from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK.

The main causes behind high cholesterol are high-fat diets, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight and not doing enough exercise.

However, when it comes to exercising to reduce cholesterol, research suggests the type of exercise you do is far more important than the amount.

So the good news is: no more wasting time in the gym! Do this exercise for just one hour every week and your heart will thank you.

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Lifting weights for just an hour a week can slash your risk of serious cardiac events, like heart attacks and strokes.

Weight lifting, or resistance training, strengthens and tones your muscles, and will also help with balance, mobility and can reduce pain from injuries or arthritis.

A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, in March 2019, found weight training for an hour a week lowered risk of heart attack or stroke by between 40 and 70 percent.

Another study in JAMA Cardiology, in July 2019, found while cardio exercises and weight training both reduce fat around the heart, only weight training reduced a specific, harmful, fat called ‘pericardial adipose tissue.’

Convinced? Here’s an easy resistance workout to get you started.

Arj Thiruchelvam, the founder of Performance Physique and has coached Team GB athletes, has written a four-step workout for beginners exclusively for Express.co.uk.

Arj says: “We all know how important physical activity is for health but activity into older age is simply not emphasised enough.

“We need to stimulate the muscle as much as possible and resistance training, whether bodyweight or with dumbbells, does make a difference.

“When we’re older, physical exercise not only makes you feel and look good but it may just save you from a fall.”

Here’s Arj’s easy workout of four exercises to get you started, do this for an hour once a week and you’ll be feeling stronger in no time.

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Bench / Seated Squat

Use a chair or gym bench to improve your squat. The squat is most effective at developing muscle mass across the entire body and reducing the chance of injury, particularly as we age.

One of the challenges with this exercise is how to get your body in the right position and perform it safely, and therefore a great alternative is the bench or seated squat.

Start seated and simply move to a standing position, you can progress this exercise by adding dumbbells and even holding them above your shoulders.

Arj said: “Make sure you keep your chest tall and you drive through your heels, not through your forefoot. I recommend three sets of 15 repetitions as a great starting point.”


Arj said: “One of my favourite exercises and certainly not one that should be reserved just for a Jane Fonda exercise video!”

Clamshells look after your Glute muscles, which play a large role in lower back pain and also the correct functioning of how we walk and run.

If you want to minimise injury and maximise health and performance, then this is an exercise you can perform every other day.

Add a resistance band around your knees to make it more challenging, but aim for higher repetitions. Arj said: “I like to do three rounds of 20 seconds on each leg.”

Banded Face Pulls

Using a resistance band or the cable machine in the gym at shoulder height, extend your arms and pull the band towards your face.

It’s important to keep your elbows in a high position at all times in addition to ensuring the resistance isn’t too great.

The idea behind this exercise is to improve joint stability and range of motion, this is an excellent pre-hab and rehabilitation exercise.

Three sets of 20 repetitions will do the job, just keep things light and easy.

Split Squats

Assume a lunge position but keep your feet fixed, moving your back knee towards the floor and back up.

Never completely extend the legs as the idea is to maintain some tension on both legs at all times.

One of the benefits of the split squat is those with mobility issues will find this stance slightly easier to perform a larger range of motion and to keep their torso tall.

Perform six reps on each side, three times. Progress this exercise by holding weights in each hand.

This is a great exercise to maintain and develop quadricep muscle mass to look after the knees.

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