Keeping Your Liver Lively!
Heading home after a long day, most of us would just like to rest, relax and rid ourselves of stress. The last thing on the mind may be exercise. But did you know that eating a ton of fatty or sugary foods and not getting enough physical activity puts stress on your liver? A diet that is high in fat and sugar and an inactive lifestyle are some of the main reasons why non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition where too much fat is stored in the liver, is now the biggest liver disease in Canada, affecting over 7 million Canadians.
The good news is that much of this stress can be avoided through healthy eating and increasing your activity level. If you tend to let out a sigh just hearing the word “exercise”, you may be surprised to know that the recommended amount of activity for adults s is only 150 minutes per week—that is equivalent to just five episodes of your favourite sitcom (which if technology allows, you could watch as you work out!).
Here are some more helpful tips that will help you get active and keep your liver in tiptop shape!
Incorporate the right physical activity:
Finding the right form of exercise for you is the key to enjoying the time you spend being active. If you don’t like to run, forcing yourself to use a treadmill five days a week is not going to help motivate you to exercise. In fact, it will probably make exercising feel like a chore. Consider biking, swimming, walking, dancing or yoga as forms of exercise that are versatile and fun. If that doesn’t interest you, challenge yourself to join a sports team or attend a motivating group class at your local gym!
Physical activity can complement exercise:
While we often use these terms in the same way, they do not have the same meaning. Exercise is something that is best done with a moderate to high intensity, and a structured routine. Physical activity, on the other hand, is anything that gets you moving. According to the Canadian guidelines on physical activity, adults should aim for 150 minutes of activity at moderate to vigorous intensity —the kind that makes you sweat and breathe hard.
However, on days when this exercise is simply not an option, consider doing chores or running errands like cleaning, shopping, mowing the lawn, or gardening. From taking the stairs at work to walking the long way around the mall—any type of physical activity is beneficial to your health!
Living a healthy lifestyle for a few days, then shifting back to an old routine for a few weeks is not going to eliminate any stress on your liver or your body. The best way to address this is to create a routine that is flexible and right for you.
Results are made in the kitchen:
If there is one thing that is certain about a healthy lifestyle, it is that it must consist of both diet and physical activity equally. Dedicating your time to being active, only to have your progress reduced by poor eating habits can be extremely demotivating. Since your liver has over 500 functions to perform daily, it helps to get familiar with making healthier food and drink choices on a daily basis.
Don’t cause unnecessary stress:
If you have been extremely busy at work, fighting off the flu or travelling for days or weeks at a time, don’t stress yourself out! There is plenty of time to get back on track and into a regular routine of physical activity. Squeezing even half of your weekly exercise amount into some free time when you’re able to (and not feeling under the weather!) is an effective substitute during unanticipated busy periods. Even brief amounts of activity are beneficial. If your job requires you to sit all day long, get up and stretch your legs at regular intervals. Remember: some exercise is better than none, but it is also important to accept your body’s limitations.
By taking control of your liver health, you can actually help reduce your risk of developing not only liver disease but also other health conditions including diabetes and heart disease. Take advantage of this newfound knowledge and get moving towards a better lifestyle!