Can Plaque Be Removed From Your Arteries With Exercise?

Arterial plaque is a fatty substance that builds up in your arteries as you age. It is caused by several factors, including high cholesterol, a bad diet and a low physical activity level. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart and as they become clogged with plaque, coronary artery disease can develop. Coronary artery disease can lead to heart attacks and angina, or pain in the chest. Exercise can help to lower this risk by removing arterial plaque; it’s also one of the best all-natural ways to prevent the buildup of plaque.

Plaque on artery wall; Copyright 2009, Nephron; Wikipedia Commons


Your body produces two types of cholesterol: Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, and high-density lipoproteins, or HDL. LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad” cholesterol that can cause plaque buildup on your arterial walls while HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps to pickup pick up excess plaque buildup from your arteries and transfers it to your liver, where it’s broken down. You can boost your HDL cholesterol by exercising regularly.


As plaque builds up along the walls of your arteries, a disease known as atherosclerosis can develop over time. This is when your arteries begin to harden. This disease can lead to heart disease and stroke, so it’s important to address the issue immediately. Exercising for as little as 30 minutes per day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30 to 40 percent, according to the American Heart Association. It also helps reduce the risk of stroke by 20 to 27 percent. Exercise

Exercise Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for adults includes a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity and at least two resistance workouts per week. For an even greater health benefit, including a more significant increase in your HDL cholesterol score, you should exercise for 30 to 60 minutes every day. Moderate exercise includes a brisk walk, heavy gardening, a light jog or strength training with resistance bands.

HDL Cholesterol

Your HDL cholesterol score plays a critical role in the removal and prevention of unwanted plaque buildup. A desirable HDL score for adult men and women is 60 mg/dL or above. Men with a score of 40 mg/dL, and women at 50 mg/dL, or lower are at risk of heart disease. Exercising for 30 minutes, five days per week, can boost your HDL score by 5 percent, according to the Mayo Clinic. Weight loss also typically helps improve your HDL score by 1 mg/dL for every 6 lbs. you lose.

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