My HIV combo has pumped up my cholesterol. Which exercises, if any, can help lower it?    

—Flying (too) high

Studies say consistent cardiovascular exercise can drop your total and bad cholesterol (LDL), while boosting your good cholesterol (HDL).

You can choose from a variety of cardio workouts: treadmill, aerobics, step machine, walking, biking, swimming and light to moderate strength training. I recommend combining two activities per workout to challenge different muscles and increase your stamina and strength. Some guides:

Frequency: At least three times a week—I like five.

Duration: It depends on your fitness level: 10 to 15 minutes for beginners; 15 to 45 for intermediate; 30 to 60 for the very fit.

Intensity: Go for light to moderate. In strength training, too much intensity may raise your blood pressure—not good for lowering cholesterol. Aim for an exertion level where your heart rate rises but you’re breathing, not gasping. Here are two good routines—one if you go to a gym, one if you don’t. Start with what your fitness level allows—you can always go longer next time.

Gym: Do squats, then lunges—both without weights. Then do some leg presses, using 50% of the maximum weight you can handle. (Don’t know your max weight? Use your own weight as a starting point.) Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps of each exercise, with no more than 60 seconds rest between sets. Then do 10 to 30 minutes of light to moderate stepping on the treadmill or step machine.

No gym: Try interval training, combining moderate and light activities. For example, alternate three to five minutes walking with three to five jogging. Keep it up for as long as your fitness level allows—over time, you’ll be able to go longer.

Along with a healthy diet,routines like these can knock down triglycerides as well as cholesterol. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.Keep at it. Over time, you’ll see results in your lab tests—and how much better you feel.

+Jeffrey Gross Is A Certified Fitness Trainer Based in Chicago

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