For those looking to reduce their liver fat, aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body. Recent research has found that as little as 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity per week can diminish liver fat and make a real difference in people’s overall well-being. This means it’s possible to benefit from improved physical health with just 20 minutes of exercise a day.
Previous research has shown that physical activity can be a benefit for those with liver diseases, but the amount of exercise needed for improvement has never been determined. So, Penn State College of Medicine researchers set out to find the answer.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major health concern for many people, affecting about 30% of the world’s population. It is especially alarming because NAFLD can progress if left unchecked and lead to liver cirrhosis, which scars the liver, and in some cases, even causes cancer. Although there is no single definitive cause of NAFLD, poor nutrition and obesity are among the most commonly observed risk factors. However, research shows time and time again that making certain lifestyle changes, such as eating better and exercising more, can help improve liver fat, body composition, physical fitness, and quality of life for patients.
For the study, researchers reviewed 14 studies with a total of 551 subjects who had NAFLD, which involved aerobic exercise interventions. All data pooled from the studies were evaluated, including sex, age, body mass index, change in body weight, adherence to exercise, and MRI-measured liver fat.
Exercise training was found to be 3 ½ more likely to achieve approximately a 30% reduction in MRI-measured liver fat independent of weight loss compared to standard clinical care. A secondary analysis also discovered that the optimal amount of exercise was equal to approximately 150 minutes per week of brisk walking. This allowed participants to achieve significant treatment responses compared to those who participated in a lesser dose of exercise.
“Our findings can give physicians the confidence to prescribe exercise as a treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease,” said Jonathan Stine, author of the study. “Having a target amount of physical activity to aim for will be useful for health care and exercise professionals to develop personalized approaches as they help patients modify their lifestyles and become more physically active.”
Maximizing the Performance of the Liver
As one of the most important organs in the human body, the liver works 24 hours a day to produce and process many of the chemicals the body requires. It processes over 500 functions, including hormone production, bile secretion, and converting sugars into glycogen.
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