Effects of Exercise on Triglycerides Levels

February 27, 2021

I received the lab report for my blood work today. Not many sur­pris­es, which is a good thing.

The only thing that I noticed was that my triglyc­erides level had almost dou­bled from about 15 months ago when I last did my blood work. I entered the results into a spread­sheet where I’ve been track­ing my lab report num­bers for the past 3 years. Since the first time I start­ed track­ing my lipid pro­file in March 2018, which report­ed my triglyc­erides level at around 100mg/​dl, it dropped to 64mg/​dl in the Sep­tem­ber of that same year, and dropped fur­ther to 56mg/​dl for the entire year of 2019. My cur­rent level is back to around 100mg/​dl.

I thought about what could have pos­si­bly caused this dras­tic change in triglyc­erides levels, and real­ized it cor­re­sponds almost uncan­ni­ly to the period when I was doing HIIT exer­cise. I first start­ed doing HIIT around July 2018 at Ritual, before switch­ing to F45 in 2019. After I moved to San Fran­cis­co for work in 2020, I stopped exer­cis­ing any­where as intense­ly. I don’t like to exer­cise, and not having access to class­es nor the gym meant that I had close to no moti­va­tion for exer­cis­ing.

What’s also inter­est­ing to find out is that my triglyc­erides level expe­ri­enced its most sig­nif­i­cant decrease after just 2 months of exer­cise (recall that I only start­ed HIIT in July 2018, and mea­sured my levels again in Sep­tem­ber), and only decreased slight­ly more even after ramp­ing up and main­tain­ing a high level of exer­cise inten­si­ty over 2019.

TLDR: Doing HIIT cut my triglyc­erides level by almost half.

I hope this lon­gi­tu­di­nal study of N=1 might be help­ful to others, espe­cial­ly those track­ing their triglyc­erides/​HDL ratio levels.