Physical exercise and liver diseases

15 November, 2018

Performing physical exercise is highly recommended for people with liver diseases.

Some years ago it was considered that patients with liver diseases should remain at rest (still some doctors recommend it on certain occasions). Currently, it is known that physical exercise is good or does not affect the course of both acute and chronic hepatitis.

In relation to acute hepatitis, during the Vietnam War, soldiers with the disease were sent to the front and others were left at rest. They healed the same, that is, exercise did not influence the course of the disease. Therefore, people with acute hepatitis can exercise (unless they show signs of seriousness: low prothrombin time, encephalopathy, etc.).

In our clinic, we allow the practice of exercise to patients with acute hepatitis, limited only by the feeling of fatigue in each case.

Reduction of fat in the liver after exercise

With respect to chronic liver diseases, there are many publications showing that the practice of exercise benefits the evolution of these diseases. For example, physical exercise improves fatty liver. This is due to weight loss. However, it has also been shown that even without losing weight, exercise improves transaminases and decreases the amount of fat in the liver.

Also, it has been proven that exercise benefits patients with hepatitis C because it decreases liver enzymes and fat in the liver, which is frequently associated with this hepatitis.

Physical exercise improves liver health

Sports and liver cirrhosis

This month, an article has been published in the Journal of Hepatology which recommends the practice of exercise in patients with liver cirrhosis. It is known that levels of physical activity in cirrhotic patients are low (76% of their daily activity is sedentary). Performing exercise improves their physical condition, muscle mass, quality of life and can reduce the risk of clinical decompensation of the disease.

We recommend the practice of a minimum of 3 hours of physical activity per week (better if you can do 7 hours of aerobic exercise, such as walking, etc.). Finally, we must remember that physical exercise is useful for other diseases (hypertension, diabetes, etc.).

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