Making positive lifestyle changes, such as getting more physical activity, is the best way to raise HDL, or good cholesterol, according to Mayo Clinic. Certain medicines also raise HDL.
Even making small lifestyle changes can increase HDL, notes Mayo Clinic. For example, quitting smoking may increase HDL level by as much as 10 percent. Smokers can increase their odds of quitting smoking successfully by speaking with their doctor about different strategies. Losing weight can also increase your HDL level. For every 6 pounds lost, HDL could increase by as much as 1 mg/dL.
More physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can also increase good cholesterol in otherwise healthy but sedentary adults. Exercising briskly for at least 30 minutes a day may increase HDL levels by around 5 percent, reports Mayo Clinic. Examples include biking, walking, running, swimming or playing a game of basketball. If you are unable to dedicate 30 minutes at a time to exercise, you can break up the routine into three 10-minute parts.
Finally, medicines such as niacin increase HDL levels. Niacin is usually the best choice, as it has a lower occurrence of side effects than other medicines, such as statins and fibrates, according to Mayo Clinic.