Exercise increases protective HDL cholesterol, an effect that occurs even from walking. Total and LDL cholesterol are typically lowered by exercise, especially when weight-loss also occurs. Exercisers have a relatively low risk of heart disease. However, people over 40 years of age, or who have heart disease, should talk with their doctor before starting an exercise program; overdoing it may actually trigger heart attacks.
Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, in part because weight gain lowers HDL cholesterol.Weight loss reduces the body’s ability to make cholesterol, increases HDL levels, and reduces triglycerides (another risk factor for heart disease). Weight loss also leads to a decrease in blood pressure.
Smoking is linked to a lowered level of HDL cholesterol and is also known to cause heart disease.Quitting smoking reduces the risk of having a heart attack.
The combination of feelings of hostility, stress, and time urgency is called type A behavior. Men, but not women, with these traits are at high risk for heart disease in most, but not all, studies. Stress or type A behavior may elevate cholesterol in men. Reducing stress and feelings of hostility has reduced the risk of heart disease.