Exercise, why it matters to your fatty liver

Several members have been asking about exercise lately.  The problem for anyone who is obese or ill is that it is so hard to do.  When you think about the fact that you have to walk a mile to burn off a single apple it is easy to be defeated by the task.  One apple is about 100 calories and to lose a pound you have to burn 3500 calories.  Crazy math, people who tell you to lose weight exercising probably don't face the challenges that you are dealing with.

We all agree that exercise is good for us and we all resolve to do more, but the simple truth is that most people fail to have an exercise program that affects their weight at all.  Since you wouldn't be here unless you or someone you care about was struggling perhaps there is a way to think about the exercise problem from a different perspective.

At the core, the lifestyle changes required to lose weight are about diet and the details of how to approach that are subjects we've commented on before.  If you would like to refresh your thinking about diet here is a link to our diet page


Let's look at exercise from the point of view of your liver.  The liver is a flexible mass of tissue and you might think of it as a very dense forest of veins with liver cells closely packed around all of them.  Every liver cell has blood moving past it and since a cell is only about 1/5 the width of a human hair the complexity is really quite extreme considering that each cell is involved in about 500 processes.

So how does exercise fit in?  The liver is a flow through organ meaning that the blood is constantly passing through the tissue and the steady movement of those fluids, both in and out, is critical to the health of those individual cells.  If the flow of nutrients in or a buildup of chemicals that should go out happen the cells are at risk and cell death and disease may follow.  Since the liver is flexible the internal flow isn't always the same.  The blood takes the easiest course so be sedentary and always put pressure on the same spots in the liver and blood will move around that area rather than through it.  When you exercise you raise the pressure and the flow rate of your blood so more volume will move through areas that you have stressed with pressure and be more evenly distributed.  Also as you move you might think of that like giving your liver a massage.  Movement helps the channels stay open so that blood can move normally.

That is why, as someone concerned about your liver, you should strive to do what you can.  Anything which increases your blood flow, even modestly, is a positive for your liver.  Anything that causes movement in the tissue, even massaging it under your ribs, is a benefit.  If all you can do is modest and of no value at all for weight loss, do that.  Walk 100 steps that you don't normally take, lift your legs when you sit.  Flex and stretch to whatever extent you can. 

In the battle against progressive liver dysfunction things are cumulative. Frequent small things add up, both plus and minus, so it is not a defeat to be unable to lose a pound running.  So long as you persist in whatever modest ways you can you will benefit so think of it from that point of view rather than being intimidated by the calorie math.

We hope you are well and wish you the best.

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