Staying Healthy Through the Holidays

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Liver Health and Osteoporosis

Music Helps a Fatty Liver

For individuals living with liver disease, a common goal on December 31st is to leave ill health, failed treatments and poor lifestyle choices behind while greeting the New Year with a healthier liver. New Year’s Eve represents the quintessential time to put this plan into action. By choosing a New Year’s resolution most aligned with your health goals, such as exercising regularly, you can feel good about starting the year with your best foot forward. Research shows that consistent exercise protects against fatty liver disease. Because music helps exercisers adhere to their program, it could be a great help in preventing a fatty liver.

Affecting an estimated one of four American adults, fatty liver disease has emerged as one of our society’s predominant health threats. Luckily, there is a secret weapon against fatty liver disease, a single method that defends against this condition. That secret weapon is exercise – many people’s most feared lifestyle modification. By renewing the motivation to exercise, music has the potential to reduce the percentage of Americans living with fatty liver disease.

About a Fatty Liver
Describing the buildup of excess fat in the liver cells, a fatty liver can lead to inflammation, liver damage, cirrhosis or even liver failure. Even though most researchers believe that metabolic syndrome (a group of disorders that increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke) plays a role in the development of fatty liver disease, the exact cause remains unclear.

Nonetheless, health experts agree that the best protection against a fatty liver is maintaining a healthy weight, healthy cholesterol ratios and normal blood sugar levels. In addition to avoiding excessive alcohol and other toxic substances, keeping fit plays a primary role in fatty liver disease prevention. Besides preventing a fatty liver, lifestyle modifications that help you achieve and maintain metabolic health are also reputed to reverse a fatty liver that has not yet reached an advanced disease state.

No Exercise = Fatty Liver Disease
Countless studies have concluded that exercise and a fatty liver have an inverse relationship. A recently published University of Missouri study indicates that skipping exercise for a short period of time can promote fatty liver disease. Published in the September 2008 edition of The Journal of Physiology, Missouri researchers found that a sudden transition to a sedentary lifestyle can quickly lead to symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

According to Jamal Ibdah, Professor of Medicine and Medical Pharmacology and Physiology at the University, “We found that the cessation of daily exercise dramatically activates specific precursors known to promote hepatic steatosis. This study has important implications for obese humans who continually stop and start exercise programs. Our findings strongly suggest that a sudden transition to a sedentary lifestyle increases susceptibility to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” Although performed on animals, this study demonstrated that physical activity prevented fatty liver disease by 100 percent. On the other hand, 100 percent of the trial’s subjects who were sedentary had fatty liver disease.

For one reason or another, most of us know that exercise is good for us. Regardless of knowing its value, few people actually make time for it. While there are a variety of reasons why people don’t exercise, the most common are:

· It takes too much time

· It is too painful or uncomfortable

Despite their validity, the ability to prevent or reverse liver disease is too great to make an excuse for not exercising. While starting an exercise program is feasible for most of us, maintaining the activity is typically the most challenging. As the University of Missouri study demonstrated, maintaining an exercise program is crucial to preventing fatty liver disease. Thus, figuring out how to maintain a regular exercise program is the best way to keep your liver healthy.

Exercise Motivation
Listening to music while you exercise is a powerful motivator. “Music enhances a workout, it makes you work harder without realizing it, and it makes the workout go by faster,” says fitness expert Petra Kolber, a spokesperson for the IDEA Health and Fitness Association.

According to a 2005 study by Christopher Capuano, Director of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s School of Psychology, listening to music while exercising boosted participants’ weight loss and helped exercisers stay consistent. In his paper, Capuano noted the following:

· Listening to preferred music while exercising may facilitate focusing on the music or other pleasant stimuli rather than the discomforts that typically accompany strenuous exercise.

· Music may also evoke pleasant thoughts, possibly masking unpleasant stimuli (such as heavy breathing associated with physical exertion) or serving to distract one from the internal feelings associated with discomfort.

· Although the exact neurological substrates mediating the effects of music on pain or discomfort are not well understood, it has been demonstrated that music can reduce factors contributing to pain and discomfort such as stress, tension and anxiety.

According to Capuano, “The more unfit you are, the more difficult exercise is. Music helps break the monotony of exercise and provides a distraction from the physical exertion.” In an effort to ward off a fatty liver, below are some tips for using music to motivate your exercise routine:

1. Use an Mp3 Player – The days of songs that skip or struggling to find a radio station are over. Take advantage of today’s technology by using a digital audio player to provide your music.

2. Customize Your Playlist – When exercising to music, most of us match the cadence of our movement to the tempo and rhythm of the song. Choose upbeat songs that you enjoy to get your blood pumping. In addition, make sure your music plays for the length of time you have committed to exercise.

3. Mix it up – Don’t get bored of your tunes. Keep yourself motivated by periodically changing your playlist and adding new songs, or at least change your playlist’s order.

4. Stay Safe – Keep music volume at a level that will not damage your hearing and that will enable you to hear important sounds in your environment.

Although the desire to stay healthy and sidestep fatty liver disease could prompt a few people to exercise regularly, the rest of us need a little more encouragement. Knowing that you are about to rock out to your favorite tunes can be a strong motivator. With your mind focused on music, completing a workout doesn’t seem so hard. As long as you stay safe, choose motivating music and mix up your songs, using an Mp3 player can help you maintain your exercise program and keep your liver fat-free., Get an assist from MP3,
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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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