The liver, which is considered the largest gland in the body, is a vital organ that has a wide range of functions, such as neutralization of toxins, protein synthesis and production of chemicals necessary for digestion. Liver function may be affected by the increased accumulation of fat, as observed in diabetics, obese individuals and chronic alcoholics.
Fortunately, regular exercise has been shown to lower the amount of fats and related substances in the liver.1 Such physical exertion also enhances the action of a hormone known as insulin in the liver, which is required for proper metabolism of glucose. Excess fat accumulation decreases the action of insulin in the liver, which is considered as one of the causes of diabetes, a disorder characterized by high blood glucose levels.2
The decrease in the amount of fatty material in the liver also decreases the accumulation of fats in the blood vessels. This benefit is brought about by the improved functioning of the liver, which plays a vital role in the utilization of fats in the body. Improved liver functioning reduces the accumulation of fats in the blood vessels and helps in keeping the blood vessels smooth and supple.3 Exercise has also been beneficial in prevention of a common liver problem called nonalcoholic fatty liver disorder, which is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver cells and tissues.4 Furthermore, exercise improves circulation, energy consumption, digestion and overall well-being.
Consequently, everyone is advised to exercise to improve his or her liver function. Additionally, a team of researchers from the Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Canada, has suggested that this improvement can be noticed when there is a generalized weight loss following proper diet and regular exercise.5 Therefore, regular exercise and proper diet are necessary to improve the functioning of the liver.
- Katsan CS. Prescribing Aerobic Exercise for the Regulation of Postprandial Lipid Metabolism: Current Research and Recommendations. Sports Med. 2006; 36(7): 547–560.
- Katsanos CS. Lipid-induced Insulin Resistance in the Liver: Role of Exercise. Sports Med. 2004; 34(14): 955–965.
- Nikolaidis MG, Mougios V. Effects of Exercise on the Fatty-acid Composition of Blood and Tissue Lipids. Sports Med. 2004; 34(15): 1051–1076.
- Cave M, et al. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Predisposing Factors and the Role of Nutrition. J Nutr Biochem. 2007; 18(3): 184–195.
- Devries MC, Samjoo IA, Hamadeh MJ, Tarnopolsky MA. Effect of Endurance Exercise on Hepatic Lipid Content, Enzymes, and Adiposity in Men and Women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008; 16(10): 2281–228.