Cholesterol is measured using a blood draw. According to guidelines published in 2016, it’s usually not necessary to fast before your test. (Ask your doctor ahead of time to make sure.)

The myth: You have no control over your cholesterol levels.

The facts: To be sure, some influences on cholesterol are beyond your control. Infants are born with very low LDL cholesterol and levels “keep going up and up” as we age, Cho says. When women hit menopause and estrogen—which helps regulate lipid levels—wanes, their levels of LDL and triglycerides increase. “It’s an aging process. It’s not a moral failure,” Cho says. There are also racial differences. About 9.2% of Black male adults and 10.5% of Black female adults had high cholesterol between 2015-18, compared to 10.1% for white men and 13.1% for white women, according to a report from the American Heart Association.

But there are definitely some things you can do to keep your cholesterol in check, such as exercising. Regular high-intensity workouts, including running or biking at a good pace, can lower cholesterol by at least 10%, Wright says. Exercise also helps people sleep better and reduce stress, which can improve your heart and overall health. “No medication can replicate the physiological benefits of exercise,” Wright says.