Let's have a recap: in part 1, we discussed on the unhealthy eating habits I quit, in order to lower my cholesterol level; in part 2, I listed the food whose consume I've increased over the last 3 months; and now, in part 3, I will illustrate the most painful element of the new lifestyle, the physical exercise!
Honestly, it was not so painful to me, as I love so much running. Nevertheless, I still remember the pain and the injuries I went through years ago, when I started practicing this sport regularly. And, woe me, I have recently decreased my weekly mileage due to a problem with my tendon. Plus, last week I hit my head on the granite-rim of the swimming pool, but this is another story...
1. Information & education
A correct information on the kind of exercise you need to tackle your problem at best is essential. For this reason I decided to discuss about my cholesterol problems with my doctor. As a second step, I collected on the internet as many information as possible about the most effective ways to decrease cholesterol levels, the diets, the lifestyles and the most common mistakes to avoid.
After each session, I keep track of what I do: how many miles I run, what kind of exercise and how many repetitions, injuries or particular reactions from my body. Exactly three months ago, when I started running again after a long winter break, I hardly could run 1 km without stopping (what a shame!). Now I can run 10 km with no break at a decent pace! Keeping track is a big motivational support (see next point).
Motivation is pivotal. If you want to achieve decent results, one or two weeks of sporadic exercise won't do. What you need is a constant exercise that exceeds at least 100 days. After each session, I usually sit down briefly on my PC and google "benefits of sport" or "benefits of running" and I read the related articles. That boosts my will to go on, in spite of being tired and thirsty.
4. Running and physical exercise
Here some details about what I've been doing in the last 3 months. Important note: if I expected my total cholesterol level to lower exactly by 10% (see point 1), I was negatively surprised to find out that my HDL level remained unchanged. The HDL is the "good cholesterol", (unlike the LDL, its increase is a good sign), which is supposed to go up with the increase of phisical activity, namely running. The more and the longer you run, the higher the HDL value. I've read that a mileage of 30 km weekly is just enough to have an impact on HDL. My average was below this threshold, so this might explain the fact that my value even decreased, even if slightly.
Coming back to my sport routine, I started moving up my bottom on April the 10th with some warming up sessions. On 14th I started getting serious: I increased my mileage and included sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups. Beginning on May the 18th, I exercised 6 days a week: 3 running sessions every other day (running at least 5 km under 25 minutes - 5 minutes/km pace) plus 3 exercises sessions a week (I started with 25 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 30 crunches per session).
After one month, I was able to run 8 km (always at a 5 min/km pace) and to perform 40 pull-ups, 40 push-ups and 100 crunches.
Unfortunately a nasty tendinitis stopped my running progress on June 26th (my task was to run 10 km non-stop at 5 min / km pace), so I focused more on physical exercise and some swimming sessions. In fact, I stopped running 15 days before the blood test and my weekly average was always around 20 km. Definitely not enough to make a dent in my HDL level, but probably enough to contribute on the lowering of the "bad cholesterol" LDL. It must be said that I like walking and I use the car only to cover distances longer than 5 km.
That's all I wanted to say about my "cholesterol experience". I intend to adopt further my new lifestyle (probably I will eat some more ice cream in August, but I will definitely avoid alcohol) and to resume running (my task is to run 10 km in 50 minutes or less). At the end of the year I will check my blood again and I will let you know about the results!