150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week can reduce liver fat

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In a study from Penn State College of Medicine, scientists found the 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity per week that is recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can significantly reduce liver fat.

The team’s meta-analysis of 14 previous studies confirms that exercise leads to strong reductions in liver fat for people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects close to 30% of the global population and over time, can lead to cirrhosis, also known as liver scarring, and cancer.

There are no approved drug treatments or an effective cure for this common condition; however, research has shown that exercise can improve liver fat, physical fitness, body composition and quality of life for patients.

Previous research has suggested that physical activity was beneficial, but it had not determined the specific amount of exercise needed to make meaningful improvement.

In the study, the team reviewed 14 studies with a total of 551 people who had NAFLD and participated in clinical studies involving exercise interventions.

Independent of weight loss, the team found exercise training was 3 1/2 times more likely to achieve clinically meaningful treatment response (greater than or equal to 30% relative reduction in MRI-measured liver fat) compared to standard clinical care.

They also found what the optimal “dose” of the exercise was to achieve clinically meaningful improvements in liver fat.

They found that 39% of patients prescribed greater than or equal to 750 metabolic equivalents of task (for example, 150 minutes per week of brisk walking) achieved big treatment response compared to only 26% of those prescribed lesser doses of exercise.

This is the same amount of physical activity recommended by the American Gastroenterological Association and the European Association for the Study of the Liver.

According to the team, when this amount of exercise was prescribed, clinically relevant reductions in MRI-measured liver fat were achieved at a rate similar to those reported in early-phase NASH drug trials evaluating medications that block fat production.

More research, particularly controlled randomized trials, is needed to validate their findings and to compare the impact of different exercise doses head-to-head.

If you care about liver health, please read studies about new promising drug for pancreatic, liver cancer, and how sugary beverages affects the liver.

For more information about liver health, please see recent studies about the cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and results showing a new way to treat alcohol-associated liver disease.

The study was conducted by Jonathan Stine et al and published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

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