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Exercise and Liver Disease part 6 Weight-bearing Exercise
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Melissa Palmer, MD posted:
Weight-bearing exercises build up both bones and muscles. For many reasons, it is
important for all people with liver disease to incorporate weight-bearing exercises into
their daily exercise routines. First, people with liver disease need good strong bones
because they are prone to osteoporosis. Weight training is the best way to fight against
this, as stronger muscles equal stronger bones. Second, in advanced stages of liver
disease, the body is forced to recruit muscle as a source of energy, and people are at risk
of developing severe muscle wasting and greatly diminished strength. However, if a
person has a reserve of muscle built up on her body, it will take a much longer time for
this complication of liver disease to develop. Third, people who have too much fat on
their bodies are at risk of worsening their underlying liver condition by developing
nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Weight training reduces the amount of fat on
the body and increases muscle mass. Therefore, the chance of developing NAFLD will be
reduced. Finally, since muscle weighs more than fat, weight training is the perfect means
of gaining lean healthy weight for those people who are underweight.
One exception to weight training should be mentioned. People with cirrhosis
complicated by esophageal varices should avoid weight training. This is because wall
tension in the esophagus may drastically increase with weight training which puts this
group at increased risk for esophageal variceal rupture and hemorrhage.
Once again, there are lots of self-help books and videotapes that describe how to
create a personalized weight-bearing exercise routine. It's a good idea to hire a personal
fitness trainer, who can design a personalized routine specific to an individual's needs. It
is important that the trainer be aware of the client's liver disorder, and that consequently,
the client will not always be able to exercise to her fullest capacity. A person with liver
disease should never push herself excessively, nor should she allow herself to be pushed
by a trainer. If she feels too tired or if a body part feels strained, she should stop
exercising until she feels better. Fitness training has become a field that requires
certification, so make sure that the trainer is certified.
It is important to remember to work out every part of the body evenly. Did you know
that there are eleven distinct body parts to work out! In that way, the chances of injury are
decreased. A few stretching exercises should always be performed first to warm up the
muscles before doing weight-bearing exercises. The amount of weight being lifted should
allow for eight to twelve repetitions. Each repetition (rep) is defined as one full and
individual execution of a particular lifting exercise. A set is a distinct grouping of
repetitions, followed by a brief rest interval. Three sets of a given type of exercise should
be performed. Aim to work out each body part at least once a week. Twice a week is ideal.
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CKRogers responded:
Dr. Palmer,

I am a HepC without treatment and Autoimmune Hep survivor. I have less than a third of healthy liver left. I am an anomoly within the liver community and from what I understand I am not the only one.

I have searched and searched for this information. Most articles are pre and post op liver transplant.

I want to thank you. Information like this is very difficult to find.


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