Walking and muscle-strengthening activities may significantly reduce the risk of death from liver disease, a study has found.
Chronic liver disease is increasing, partly due to the obesity epidemic, and currently there are no guidelines for the optimal type of exercise for the prevention of cirrhosis-related mortality.
Researchers said that the findings may help provide specific exercise recommendations for patients at risk for cirrhosis and its complications.
“Our findings show that both walking and strength training contribute to substantial reductions in risk of cirrhosis-related death, which is significant because we know very little about modifiable risk factors,” said Tracey Simon, from Harvard Medical School in the US.
“The benefit of exercise is not a new concept, but the impact of exercise on mortality from cirrhosis and from liver cancer has not yet been explored on this scale,” Simon said in a statement.
Researchers collected data from 68,449 women and 48,748 men who did not have any known liver disease at the start of the study.
The participants provided highly accurate data on physical activity, including type and intensity, every two years from 1986 through 2012, which allowed researchers to prospectively examine the association between physical activity and cirrhosis-related death.
The findings of study demonstrated that adults in the highest quintile of weekly walking activity had 73 percent lower risk for cirrhosis-related death than those in the lowest quintile.
Further risk reduction was observed with combined walking and muscle-strengthening exercises, researchers said.