Regular Exercise Is Associated with Benefits to Your Liver

Cropped photo of four slim young women in sporty gear holding resistance bands at the gymAccording to new research from the University of Tsukuba, exercise could be the key to a healthy liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disorder worldwide, which is why it has become the focus of many studies in the past few years.

The condition is characterized by fat accumulation in liver cells without a clear cause, such as alcohol use. It may progress to inflammation, cirrhosis, and liver failure. NAFLD is associated with unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. This includes overeating, an unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise.


A study out of Japan recorded that NAFLD affects 41% of all men in the country. Out of this population, 25% will progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatic dysfunction.

“We compared data from obese Japanese men with NAFLD on a 3-month exercise regimen with those on dietary restriction targeting weight loss,” senior author Professor Junichi Shoda explains. “We tracked hepatic parameters, reduction in adipose tissue, increase in muscle strength, reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress, changes in organokine concentrations, and expression of target genes of Nrf2, an oxidative stress sensor.”

It was found that exercise helped muscle mass to stabilize while decreasing body fat and mass. Ultrasound results showed that an exercise regime reduced liver steatosis by 9.5%, liver stiffness by an additional 6.8%, and the FibroScan-AST Score (a measure of liver fibrosis) by an additional 16.4% over just a weight-loss regimen.

Exercise was also shown to induce anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress responses by altering the circulating concentrations of specific organokines, which activated an oxidative stress sensor. It also showed the promise of maintaining liver function by enhancing phagocytic capacity.

A Relationship between Exercise and Liver Health

The findings clearly showed a relationship between exercise and a reduction of liver steatosis and fibrosis in NAFLD. This is achieved through the preservation of muscle mass and is independent of weight changes.


Researchers warn that patients on an exercise program may become demotivated and drop out if they do not experience significant weight loss. They suggest moderate to vigorous-intensity exercise should be integrated into NAFLD therapeutic regimens. This can help ensure the patient sees results and becomes more motivated to continue with the exercise program.

By incorporating an exercise component into NAFLD therapy, researchers believe the incidence of inflammation, cirrhosis, and liver failure can be reduced. Although this study comes from Japan, it can help with suggested therapy in the United States.

Here in the U.S, NAFLD is the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting about one-quarter of the population. More research is needed to confirm these findings in this population, but this study gives an overall view of how important exercise can be for liver disease.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.