Find out exercise moves and yoga poses good for liver health. Plus get helpful tips on starting an exercise program.
Getting regular physical exercise can help you manage your weight, reduces your risk of disease, and enables you to develop stronger muscles and bones. According to research, there’s another benefit of getting your body moving: greater liver health. This article takes a look at exercise moves and yoga poses that are good for your liver.
Studies have found that exercise may help protect against fatty liver on a cellular level, even aiding in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). (1) Physical exercise also appears to provide liver health benefits regardless of whether your workouts result in weight loss—in other words, if the scale doesn’t appear to be moving from your exercise sessions, your liver still receives some benefits! (2)
Perhaps the best part is that even small amounts of activity seem to have a positive effect on the health of this important organ. (3) This is good news for people who aren’t particularly fond of working out yet want to do what they can to support optimal liver function.
If you’re looking for ways to promote the health and function of your liver with exercise, here are some moves and yoga poses to consider adding to your workout routine.
Exercise Moves For Improved Liver Health
Research indicates that all types of aerobic exercise are helpful for improving liver triglyceride levels, with more positive effects reported after study participants engaged in either continuous or interval aerobic exercise. (4)
Examples of continuous exercise include walking or bicycling at a steady rate for a certain period of time. Interval training involves varying the intensity of your exercise repeatedly during a workout session, such as walking briskly for 60 seconds followed by 1-2 minutes of light walking, then repeating this pattern.
Find an aerobic activity you enjoy, making it easier to stick to your exercise routine. Options include:
• walking or running
While even small amounts of aerobic activity can benefit liver health, a study released by Penn State College of Medicine in early 2023 suggests that aiming for 150 minutes of physical activity per week may provide the most benefits for reducing liver fat. (5) That makes this a good goal to work toward.
Resistance Exercise For Fatty Liver
If you have poor respiratory fitness due to NAFLD or otherwise struggle with aerobic exercise, don’t worry. Research also indicates that resistance exercise provides liver health benefits, potentially due to its effects on lipid metabolism. (6) This gives you another exercise option you can do and still promote liver health.
Resistance exercise, also referred to as strength training, involves doing movements with some type of resistance (think resistance bands or weights) to help build and strengthen muscles and bones.
Examples of exercises for fatty liver that fall into this category include:
• biceps curls
• bench presses
In the research mentioned, it was reported that subjects received liver health benefits after engaging in resistance exercise three times per week for 12 weeks, and their workout sessions were 45 minutes in length. But don’t let this amount overwhelm you. If you’re new to resistance training, start with shorter sessions, then work up from there.
Yoga For Liver Health: Best Yoga Poses
Yoga is often associated with its ability to help improve your flexibility. In one small-scale study, researchers also found that individuals who engaged in yoga for one month had significant improvements in their liver function. (7)
The Yoga Journal shares that yoga poses good for the liver include: (8)
• Gate pose
• Cat pose
• Cow pose
• Side Crow pose
• Side Crane pose
Tips for Starting an Exercise Program
If you’re new to exercise, start slowly. Aim for short 5 to 10-minute sessions, then work up from there. Also, start with a lower intensity, only working out harder once your body becomes used to exercise.
It is always recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise routine. This can help ensure that the activity you want to do is safe for you given your health conditions and status.
You may also want to work with a personal trainer, at least at the beginning. A trainer can show you the correct way to do exercises, helping you to avoid an unnecessary injury. They can also prescribe an exercise routine based on your fitness level and goals.
(1) Stevanović, J., Beleza, J., Coxito, P., Ascensão, A., Magalhães, J. (2020, February). Physical Exercise and Liver “Fitness”: Role of Mitochondrial Function and Epigenetics-Related Mechanisms in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Molecular Metabolism. doi:10.1016/j.molmet.2019.11.015
(2) Verdelho Machado, M. (2021, September 28). Aerobic Exercise in the Management of Metabolic Dysfunction Associated Fatty Liver Disease. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S304357
(3) Berkovic, M., Bilic-Curcic, I., Mrzljak, A., Cigrowvski, V. (2021, October 05). NAFLD and Physical Exercise: Ready, Steady, Go! Frontiers in Nutrition. doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.734859
(4) Słomko, J., Zalewska, M., Niemiro, W., et al. (2021, April 13). Evidence-Based Aerobic Exercise Training in Metabolic-Associated Fatty Liver Disease: Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. Journal of Clinical Medicine. doi:10.3390/jcm10081659
(5) Penn State University. (2023, February 8). 150 Minutes of Aerobic Exercise Per Week Reduces Liver Fat, Study Finds. Retrieved July 14, 2023, from https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/150-minutes-aerobic-exercise-week-reduces-liver-fat-study-finds/
(6) Hashida, R., Kawaguchi, T., Bekki, M., et al. (2017, January). Aerobic vs. Resistance Exercise in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Systematic Review. Journal of Hepatology. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2016.08.023
(7) Sharma, K., Kumar, P. (2017, November). Effect of Yogic Practices on Liver Function Parameters. International Journal of Yoga and Allied Sciences. Retrieved July 14, 2023, from http://indianyoga.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/vol-6-suppissue6.pdf
(8) Yoga Journal. (n.d.). Poses for Your Liver. Retrieved July 14, 2023, from https://www.yogajournal.com/legacy-category/liver/