Should You Use a Stationary Bike or a Treadmill for Lowering Triglycerides?

by Nina K. Hauptman, Demand Media
    The stationary bike and treadmill both help keep triglycerides in check.

    The stationary bike and treadmill both help keep triglycerides in check.

    If your doctor broke the news that you have high triglyceride levels, don't despair -- with exercise and other smart lifestyle changes, you can beat this problem. Both the stationary bike and the treadmill have similar triglyceride-busting effects, so the best machine for you is the one you enjoy the most and are most likely to stick with. If you're new to exercise, discuss any new workout plans with your physician.

    About Triglycerides

    Everyone has triglycerides, or fats, floating through their bloodstream. Your body converts any calories you consume but don't immediately need for energy into triglycerides, and your liver makes some triglycerides as well. Triglycerides are healthy in normal levels; however, problems arise when blood triglyceride levels rise above 150 milligrams per deciliter. According to Columbia University Medical Center, high triglyceride levels are linked to diabetes and pancreatitis, or pancreas inflammation. People with high triglyceride levels are also more likely to develop hardening of the arteries, according to Mayo Clinic, although scientists are not clear on why this happens.

    Exercise and Triglycerides

    Physical activity is an important weapon in your triglyceride-fighting arsenal. Like other cardio exercises, using a bike or treadmill requires sustained energy, which your body gets in part by burning triglycerides. Whichever equipment you choose, maintain a moderate or vigorous intensity -- the higher the intensity, the more energy you'll use, which could translate to more powerful triglyceride-lowering effects. To gauge intensity, simply observe your body after you start pedaling, walking or jogging. At a moderate intensity, you'll sweat after about 10 minutes of activity and won't be able to sing a song. At a vigorous intensity, you'll sweat within a few minutes and won't be able to utter a full sentence without stopping for air. Typically, walking on the treadmill at a brisk 3.5 mph or cycling at 12 mph at a low resistance level provides a moderate cardio workout, while jogging, running or cycling at 14 mph all provide vigorous workouts.

    Bike versus Treadmill

    If you're still torn between the stationary bike and the treadmill, it's time to look beyond triglycerides. Of the two machines, the stationary bike is gentlest on your joints, a definite plus if you have knee problems. However, walking, jogging or running will help build bone density, protecting you from osteoporosis later on in life; cycling has no such benefit. That said, the best workout is a varied one, so try alternating between aerobic equipment to avoid getting stuck in a cardio rut.

    Triglyceride-Fighting Strategy

    To battle high triglyceride levels, Harvard Medical School recommends cycling, using a treadmill or performing other cardio activities 30 minutes per day, most days of the week. They also recommend losing any extra weight, minimizing alcohol intake and avoiding refined carbs such as white bread and white pasta. Eat only as many calories as you need for energy, which is 2,000 to 2,200 calories per day for most young women.

    About the Author

    Nina K. Hauptman is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, "Healthy Living Magazine," "Organic Authority" and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.

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