Study: Walking just 22 minutes a day lowers risk of liver disease
The researchers concluded that exercise is three and a half times more likely to reduce liver fat than conventional care methods.
The term non-alcoholic fatty liver disease refers to a group of conditions caused by fat in the liver. Although fatty liver does not often cause problems in the early stages, it can worsen over time. If left untreated, it can lead to liver failure and even cancer.
As the name suggests, the main characteristic of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the large amount of fat stored in the liver cells. Thus, one of the main causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is being overweight or obese, especially if the person has a lot of fat around the waist.
Therefore, to reduce the risk of fatty liver disease, health authorities recommend maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly.
A recent study also showed how much exercise is required to reduce liver fat. A meta-analysis (statistical analysis) of current research has found that 150 minutes of exercise per week — or just under 22 minutes per day — is optimal.
An article published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology used 14 exercise intervention studies in 551 participants with fatty liver disease.
Researchers from US universities evaluated data such as age, gender, body mass index, body weight change, adherence to exercise protocols, and liver fat levels measured using magnetic resonance imaging.
To be considered a clinically significant effect, there had to be a 30% relative reduction in liver fat as measured by MRI.
Through this, they found that exercise was three and a half times more likely to achieve these results compared to traditional grooming methods.
The team then determined the best “dose” of exercise and found that 39% of patients who reached or exceeded the equivalent of 150 minutes of brisk walking per week reached the liver health threshold.
And only 26% of those who exercise less than this amount reach this threshold.
“Our results may give clinicians confidence to prescribe exercise for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD),” said study author and associate professor at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania, Jonathan Stein. Healthcare and exercise professionals will benefit from developing personalized approaches as this will help patients adjust their lifestyle and become more physically active.”
He continued: “Exercise is a lifestyle modification, so the fact that it can be commensurate with the ability of the treatments being developed to achieve the same result is important. Physicians who counsel patients with NAFLD should recommend this amount of activity to their patients.”
“Rapid walking or light cycling for half an hour a day five times a week is just one example of a program that meets these criteria,” he added.
In addition to being overweight, other factors that can increase the risk of fatty liver disease include:
you have type 2 diabetes
You have a medical condition that affects how your body uses insulin
Insulin resistance such as PCOS
– You suffer from lethargy in the thyroid gland
You suffer from high blood pressure
You have high cholesterol
You have metabolic syndrome (a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity)
over fifty years old
– Do you smoke
Often, fatty liver disease does not show symptoms in the early stages, but if it becomes more severe, it can cause:
Dull or severe pain in the upper right side of the abdomen (above the ribs on the lower right)
Unexplained weight loss
Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
Swelling of the legs, ankles, feet, or abdomen (edema)
If you suspect that you may have fatty liver disease, you should contact your general practitioner immediately.