Studies over the last 60 years have shown that people who exercise are healthier than those who do not. Over the last 10 years, many studies have shown that the more intense the exercise, the greater the protection. A report from Italy shows that physical activity is very important in helping to control cholesterol (Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Volume 44, 2006). Healthy male sedentary controls had their blood cholesterol fractions compared to those of male professional cross-country skiers and professional road cyclists. The athletes had much more healthful numbers for total cholesterol, the good high-density cholesterol, triglycerides, and the bad low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The concentration of another heart attack risk factor called Lp(a) or lipoprotein(a) was the same in both groups because it is a hereditary factor that is not influenced by lifestyle. Every single scale of susceptibility for heart attacks except the Lp(a) was better in the athletes.
Some patients with high cholesterol levels are afraid to take statins because off fear of developing side effects such as muscle pain. A study from Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego reviews the latest data on side effects of statins (The American Journal of Medicine, May 2006). This review found that statin-induce muscle damage is more common in Asians, people who exercise, have had recent surgery, those with kidney, liver or thyroid disease, or with high triglycerides. The incidence of muscle pain and damage from statins is extremely low in non-exercisers, three to ten percent in those who exercise, and very high in competitive athletes. Most athletes refuse to take statin drugs because they train by taking a hard workout that damages their muscles. Then they must take easy workouts until the soreness disappears and muscles heal. When statins prevent this muscle healing, the athlete must train at reduced intensity for a much longer period of time. Brand names of statins include: Altoprev, Crestor, Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol and Zocor.