Last Updated: February 6th, 2021

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You are suffering from high levels of cholesterol. Your physician prescribed a workout. One of the fastest and cost-effective ways to do that is running. But before starting you want to know, will it actually do any good to you. So, here is our answer…

Is Running Good To Lower Cholesterol?

Yes, running is good to lower cholesterol, more precisely, the bad cholesterol. Also, it helps to increase good cholesterol and keeps you safe from cardiovascular events related to bad cholesterol. You can see significant improvement in your cholesterol levels if you run at least 10 miles per week.

Well, fine. You now know that running is good to lower your cholesterol. But how does it work? To know more read on…

What is the relationship between running and cholesterol?

Before I answer this question, let’s get into the basics first.

Cholesterol is a kind of fatty substance that circulates through your blood.

If you have too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, it may get attached to your blood vessels.

Eventually, they will narrow down the passage and can cause a heart attack.

However, not all cholesterol is bad.

They can be divided into two categories:

  • Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL)
  • High-density Lipoprotein (HDL)

When HDL flows through your blood vessels it acts as a scavenger.

It eliminates the bad cholesterol or LDL from your bloodstream.

However, if the level of HDL drops, then your chances of suffering and cardiac event get significantly higher.

The increase in LDL level is mainly because of our food habits. If you consume more saturated fat, you are more prone to high levels of LDL.

Saturated fat can be found in

  • fatty beef
  • lamb
  • pork
  • poultry with skin
  • beef fat(tallow)
  • lard and cream
  • butter
  • cheese, etc.

Needless to say, high levels of HDL prevents LDL build-up as it eliminates LDL from the bloodstream.

Running helps as it increases the level of HDL. You don’t have to participate in a race though.

A few miles every alternate day should be sufficient to maintain a high level of HDL.

But if you fancy, you may as well sign up for a race and by all means, participate.

Is Running Good To Lower Cholesterol

How long does it take to lower cholesterol with running?

If you put in consistent efforts, you can drastically lower your LDL levels in 3 weeks.

However, here is the caveat.

You have to run at least 30 min, 4 days a week.

If you are a beginner, this can be a huge time frame and you will give up due to the difficulty.

  • What you can do is, start with walking 5 min around the block.
  • After a week, add 1 min of running to it. Don’t go overboard. You must run for 1 min only.
  • Then on your next running session, try to run for 2 min with 5 min of walking.
  • Add 1 min of the run to your current session after every successful previous session.
  • Keep doing until you reach 30 min of the run.

The whole process of starting to run for 30 min should not take more than 4 – 5 weeks.

Just be consistent and you will see amazing results.

You may also like: Is Running 4 miles a Day Healthy? Know This… 

Running benefits for Cholesterol

How much should you run per week to see an effect on cholesterol?

The simple answer is – run at least 10 miles per week to see a significant improvement in your cholesterol levels.

Now, if you are a beginner then you should follow the plan provided in the above question.

If you are running consistently for 30 min a day, then you are ready to move onto the next level.

We will assume that you will be running for 4 days a week.

So, in each running session you will have to run:

10/4 = 2.5 miles.

To run 2.5 miles in 30 min, you have to have a speed of 5 mph (miles per hour).

So, if you aim for this number, you will be able to get the result you desire.

However, don’t try to run the entire 10 miles in one session.

If you are not able to shake that thought, read…

Is running 10 miles a day too much?

What type of running should you do?

You don’t need to run any race or be a world-class athlete, to reap the benefits of running.

You should run at a decent pace (preferably at least 5 mph) for 30 min.

Jogging at a comfortable pace is also fine.

You need not sprint your way through the block.

However, if that is your thing, by all means, do it.

There is no hard and fast rule of how you should run, provided you are running.

Related Questions

Some precautions to run with cholesterol

If you are living an unhealthy lifestyle, needless to say, that you should make a switch to a healthier lifestyle.


But as with anything new, you must start slow.


First of all, your body is not used to this kind of rigor.

It will want to give up midway.

Or, the next day you will be so sore that you will skip your workout and chances are you will do it for days.

Also, your chances of getting injured are more, if you suddenly start to do intense running.

Instead, start slow and build up from there as per the plan provided above.

Your next step should be to able to run at least 10 miles per week.

This should be sufficient to maintain your cardiovascular health.

However, as you get more used to running 10 miles per week, you will want to run more.

At that time, you can build up to 30 miles per week.

However, don’t go beyond that if you are a hobbyist runner.

Beyond that distance, there is no more improvement for your cardiovascular system.

However, the benefits may start to decrease.

In extreme runners like an ultramarathoner, it has been found that there is a higher possibility of plaque build-up in the heart.

If this plaque gets broken, you may suffer cardiac arrest.

If you stick to these guidelines, you should be able to run safely.

Also, observe that the above guidelines are related to running in general and not very much related to cholesterol.

Because there is none.

If you keep working out and limit your saturated fat intake, you will be fine in no time.

What other things can you do to lower your cholesterol levels?

Running is a very effective way to reduce cholesterol.

However, this is not the only way…

In fact, if you exercise regularly be it any form, you will be able to lower your cholesterol.

Here are some exercises that you can take advantage of:

  • Brisk Walking
  • HIIT
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Bodyweight exercises
  • Rowing
  • Gymming
  • Badminton
  • Tennis

You may add any other kind of physical activity you may like.

Apart from including regular exercise in your routine, you may also want to make some dietary changes to have a faster and better result.

Dietary changes

  • Reduce saturated fat from your diet – Reduce any fat that is in solid form at room temperature. These are saturated fat.
  • Eliminate trans fat – Found in fried food.
  • Increase Omega-3 intake – You can go for fishes like mackerel, salmon, sea bass, etc.
  • Increase the intake of soluble fibers – like apples, pears, kidney beans, etc.
  • Add whey protein to your diet – Invest in a good brand of whey protein. Cheap brands may cause kidney stones and are better avoided.

Lifestyle changes

  • Quit smoking
  • Lose some weight
  • Regulate your alcohol intake

OK OK, I’m not asking you to become a saint. Reduce your bad habits and you will be good.

Also, did you know that you build-up your stamina through only food?

If not, read this article…How To Increase Running Stamina By Food?

Madhusree Basu

Madhusree Basu

Author, Admin

Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.


Williams, Paul T., and Paul D. Thompson. “Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction.” Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology 33.5 (2013): 1085-1091.

Thomas, T.R., Adeniran, S.B., Iltis, P.W., Aquiar, C.A. and Albers, J.J., 1985. Effects of interval and continuous running on HDL-cholesterol, apoproteins A-1 and B, and LCAT. Canadian Journal of Applied Sport Sciences. Journal Canadien des Sciences Appliquees au Sport, 10(1), pp.52-59.

Rotkis, T., Cote, R., Coyle, E., & Wilmore, J. (1982). Relationship between high density lipoprotein cholesterol and weekly running mileage. Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation, 2(2), 109-117.

Ronnemaa, T., A. Lehtonen, M. Tammi, T. Vihersaari, and J. Viikari. “Running, HDL-cholesterol, and atherosclerosis.” Lancet (1978).

Dressendorfer RH, Wade CE, Hornick C, Timmis GC. High-density lipoprotein-cholesterol in marathon runners during a 20-day road race. JAMA. 1982 Mar 26;247(12):1715-7.

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