In the News: Exercise and Its Effect on NAFLD
Exercise benefits us in so many ways.
It’s great for weight control when used in combination with a healthy diet, but the pros go much farther than that. Exercise can lift mood, up cardiovascular health and may even make us sexier.
Human beings, like most living creatures, were made to move around. When we don’t, our bodies rebel in all sorts of ways. One way may be a fatty liver condition, even if one is only somewhat overweight (or, for a smaller percentage of the NAFLD population, not overweight at all).
Plenty of studies have been done on the benefits of exercise, both specifically (to certain conditions and/or bodily systems) and generally (whole-body health and mental health). But new research shows a direct link between working out and a partial alleviation of certain NAFLD indicators.
The study Effect of exercise training on liver function in adults who are overweight or exhibit fatty liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis by University of New England, Armidale (Australia) scientists indicated “significant improvements” in intrahepatic fat, a reduction in fasting free fatty acids and a reduction in insulin.
The conclusion: exercise training reduced intrahepatic fat and FFAs while increasing cardiorespiratory fitness in participants.
What’s that in shorthand? Exercise more and you may lower some types of fat as well as reduce insulin spikes – and by association, perhaps improve your NAFLD condition (or prevent it from occurring in the first place).
Getting Started on the Road to Fitness
How can you go from Netflix-and-a-sack-of-chips to working out? If you attempt a straight shot like that, you may be doomed to fail, experts say. Instead, take small steps (both figuratively and literally) toward your goals.
Each week, add on one of the following:
- Get some basic workout gear. Supportive sneakers/running shoes, yoga pants and a t-shirt will do for most beginners.
- Take a walk. If 30 minutes is too much, start with 20 and work your way up. Aim for three walks during the week.
- The following week, aim for five walks during the week.
- Begin using some light weights in a workout routine. If you’re not sure how to go about starting with resistance exercises, ask your doctor. Also ask for your doctor’s go-ahead healthwise to begin working out. Shoot for two light weight workouts your first week IN ADDITION TO your walks (which should now be up to five times per week).
- The following week, do your light weights routine three times IN ADDITION TO your walks.
- If you’re beginning to feel more fit, you can add on with whatever routine you’d like at this point, but be sure to incorporate both aerobic (such as walking) and anaerobic (such as weight training, resistance or Pilates) workouts in your routine.
What if You HATE Working Out?
First of all, if you do…you’re not alone! This may be because you’re equating “working out” with pain, sweating, Spandex and headbands. Does exercise have to contain these elements? No! Your body has NO idea of any difference between sweatin’ to the oldies and swimming laps in a pool (except for, perhaps, the specific muscle groups used).
If you really aren’t the workout-routine type, try one of these instead:
- hiking (or just walking, but be sure to do it for 30 minutes at a minimum and aim for a fairly fast pace)
- dancing (any type – get creative; how about hip hop? Bellydance? Swing?)
- martial arts
- beginner adult gymnastics
- playing with your child in the yard (soccer drills, basketball, running mini-“races”)
- skateboard or scooter (yes, really)
- laser tag
- Wii Sports
- Just Dance or other dancing/workout game