Keeping your liver lively!
Summertime is often associated with rest, relaxation and ridding yourself of stress. But did you know that eating a ton of fatty or sugary foods and not getting enough exercise puts stress on your liver? A poor diet regimen and an inactive lifestyle are major factors as to why non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, 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 added stress on your liver can be avoided with a proper regimen of healthy eating and exercise. If you let out a sigh just hearing the word “exercise”, you may be surprised to learn that the recommended amount of activity for adults 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 exercise!).
Here are some more helpful tips that will help you get active, and keep your liver in tiptop shape!
Incorporate the right exercise:
Finding the right form of exercise for you is the key to enjoying your time spent active. If you don’t like to run, forcing yourself on a treadmill five days a week is not going to keep you interested in exercising. 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’ is not the same as ‘exercise’:
While often used interchangeably, these words 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 and can be physically demanding. On days where exercise is simply not an option, consider doing chores or running errands like cleaning, shopping, mowing the lawn, or gardening.
Living a healthy lifestyle for a few days, then shifting back to an old routine for a few weeks is not going to improve the health of your liver or your overall wellbeing. The best way to combat this is to create a routine that is flexible and right for you. For example, being active during the workweek, but leaving your weekends for rest and relaxation, is a great routine.
Results are made in the kitchen:
If there is one thing that is certain about leading a healthy lifestyle, it’s that it must consist of both diet and exercise 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 exercise routine. 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. Summer is finally here so take advantage of the great weather and engage in some outdoor activities while you can!