Cholesterol is a fatty substance carried in the blood, and is essential for the body to function correctly. It‘s found in all cells in the body and helps make hormones, vitamin D, and some of the bile acids used in digestion. If cholesterol levels are too high it increases the risk of serious health conditions including stroke and heart disease.
Helping Clients – Diet
As a personal trainer you can help your clients keep their cholesterol under control, through healthy eating and exercise. The first step is to make sure your client’s diet is healthy, balanced and low in fatty food. They should reduce the amount of saturated fat they eat. This includes butter, cream, ice cream, cheese, fatty cuts of meat and meat products (sausages and pies), cakes and biscuits, and chocolate.
Encourage your client to replace these foods with wholegrain cereals, fruit and vegetables. Eating foods such as avocados and oily fish (mackerel, salmon and tuna) is also recommended, as these foods include Omega-3 fatty acids (good fats) which have been found to reduce fat build-up in the arteries. Urge your clients to eat at least two portions of oily fish a week.
Talk to your client and explain the difference between good and bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol, found in oily fish, carries cholesterol back to the liver where it can be broken down. Bad cholesterol carries cholesterol to the cells. If there’s too much it builds up in the artery walls.
Giving up smoking can make a huge difference to cholesterol levels. This is because the chemicals in cigarettes prevent cholesterol being transported to the liver, which then causes a narrowing of the arteries.
Helping Clients – Exercise
Taking regular exercise is one of the best ways to help lower cholesterol. Exercise stimulates the body so that any fatty deposits in the arteries can move to the liver, where they can be broken down. Walking, running, swimming and cycling are all recommended to help reduce or maintain cholesterol levels. The intensity of the exercise will obviously depend on the client’s ability and current fitness level, but even walking a few times a week can make a difference.
Some of the causes of high cholesterol include being overweight, or having high blood pressure, diabetes or other medical conditions. People who have a family history of cardiovascular disease, and those who have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease or stroke are also at risk.
Although people with high cholesterol may not notice the physical effects immediately, the high levels can cause problems over time. This includes a gradual narrowing of the arteries which can cause chest pain, weakness, headaches and cramps. It also means the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body. People with high cholesterol may have a high heart rate. The extra strain on the heart means that over time there’s a risk of heart failure. Medication is available to help people with very high cholesterol. Some of your clients may take Statins, which block the enzymes that make cholesterol.
So even though some things will need to be tackled by a medical professional; you can still do you part for your clients, through diet and exercise.