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Exercise Is a MUST if You Are Battling Hepatitis C

May 3, 2017

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Find out how physical activity can improve Hepatitis C antiviral therapy by helping reduce its associated side effects.

Physical activity outperforms any medication out there for preserving health, yet scores of Americans don’t get nearly enough of it. Reasons for being inactive usually include not having enough time or being too tired, but those with chronic Hepatitis C will fare much better when they prioritize regular exercise. The effort it takes to habitually exercise is colossal compared to the effort required to swallow a pill, but the benefits of that effort will pay off in several different ways.

Exercise does not defeat the Hepatitis C virus directly, but physical activity’s effect on all of the body’s tissues dramatically improves a Hepatitis C prognosis.

When starting out, even ten minutes of brisk walking and 15 seconds of planking can be beneficial. Most therapists advise a gradual progression of exercise, with an eventual goal of aerobic activity for half an hour, three days of the week, and muscle-strengthening activities two days a week.

Regular Exercise Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight

Regular exercise is the best way to maintain a healthy weight. When it comes to its impact on the liver:

  • Being overweight increases the number of fat cells in the liver, which can contribute to fatty liver disease and liver damage. Fat accumulation in the liver will cause inflammation and exacerbate Hepatitis C infection.
  • Carrying too much excess weight also contributes to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, which can speed the progression of liver disease in Hepatitis C.

According to Marc Ghany, MD, MHSc, a staff physician in the liver diseases branch at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, “There is some evidence that having excess fat in the liver, insulin resistance, and being overweight can accelerate the progression of liver damage in those with Hepatitis C.”

Ghany describes why there is even greater motivation for those with Hepatitis C to maintain an ideal weight, “The [Hepatitis C] virus needs lipid, or fat, droplets as part of its replication cycle. If you have less fat in the liver, the virus has a more difficult time replicating itself.” Thus, eliminating excess body fat via exercise hampers Hepatitis C from progressing to more advanced stages of liver disease.

Regular Exercise Also Improves Treatment

Besides being the best way to maintain a healthy weight, regular exercise also improves Hepatitis C antiviral therapy by helping reduce associated side effects and improving the odds of a successful treatment outcome. Although the Hepatitis C treatments are far more effective and cause fewer side effects now than they had just a few years ago, better fitness levels improve the treatment even more.

  • Side Effects – Some of the most common Hepatitis C treatment side effects are trouble sleeping and fatigue. Exercise can reduce both of these symptoms by enhancing circulation in the body. By strengthening circulation and the heart muscle, experts believe that the resulting improvement in oxygen exchange in the tissues leads to better quality sleep and a reduction in fatigue.
  • Better Treatment – Regular exercise leads to improvements in Hepatitis C antiviral treatment’s efficacy. The increase in circulation provided by exercise enhances the blood supply to the liver. As such, the liver has better access to the antiviral medication designed to target Hepatitis C cells. In addition, physical activity has been proven to boost the body’s immune function by promoting good circulation – which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job more efficiently. The stronger your immune system is, the more capable it is of eliminating the Hepatitis C virus.

If your doctor’s office just announced they have discovered a way to improve your experience on the Hepatitis C medications and help prevent any worsening or aggravation of the Hepatitis C virus, you would likely jump on board. Many may assume such a breakthrough would be in the form of a newly developed drug or surgical procedure. Luckily, you can administer this prescription yourself!

It turns out, this valuable Hepatitis C aid already exists. However, it requires a continual effort by the patient. Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least three days of the week (like walking) and muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week is one of the most important practices you can adopt when battling Hepatitis C.

As the value of exercise continues to be recognized by physicians, you are likely to see more doctors using their prescription pad to outline a gradual exercise program for an optimal Hepatitis C prognosis.

Editor’s Note: In addition to exercising regularly, eating nutritiously is an ideal way to achieve your weight loss goals. Chocolate UltraNourish is not only delicious, but it’s healthy too. This superfood protein shake is full of fruits, vegetables, antioxidants, probiotics, natural herbs, greens and liver nutrients that can help propel you to better health – including a stronger immune system! Learn more about Chocolate UltraNourish.

http://health.usf.edu/NR/rdonlyres/FCA04355-F797-4CC3-8FB0-7A30A5DA18F9/0/LivingwithHCV.pdf, Living with HCV, Hoffman-La Roche, Inc., 2017.

http://hepcbc.ca/exercise/, Exercise, Retrieved March 19, 2017, HepCBC, 2017.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/hepatitis-c-living-well/exercise-benefits/, The Benefits of Exercise for Hepatitis C, Jennifer Warner, Retrieved March 19, 2017, Everyday Health Media, LLC, 2017.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system, How to Boost your Immune System, Retrieved March 20, 2017k Harvard University, 2017.

https://www.hepmag.com/basics/hepatitis-c-basics/nutrition-exercise, Nutrition and Exercise and Hepatitis C, Retrieved March 19, 2017, Smart + Strong, 2017.

http://www.ihelpc.com/top-5-benefits-to-exercising-while-living-with-hepatitis-c/, Top 5 benefits to Exercising with Hepatitis C, Karen Hoyt, Retrieved March 19, 2017, iHelpC.com, 2017.

www.sleepfoundation.org, How Does Exercise Help Those With Chronic Insomnia?, Retrieved March 20, 2017, National Sleep Foundation, 2017.

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HepatitisCentral.com provides information regarding hepatitis and liver disease. Comments are available to the community in order to discuss these topics and obtain answers to questions through community members. The Editors at HepatitisCentral.com will not be responding to questions or comments posed in article comments.

3 Comments

  • trotter says:

    If you’re tempted to buy something mentioned at the end, ask your doctor first. And remember it’s under “editor’s note”.
    Many herbs and vitamins are toxic to your liver; iron is one that builds up in your liver, gives you no energy and starts killing your liver. Ask your doctor and read much more about nutrition.

  • Zepatier I realize I am probably spelling this wrong but that is the name of the medicine I will be taking with in the next week to begin my 12 week treatment to cure my Hep C genotype one a.

    I am a little nervous about the side effects. I happen to be kind of sensitive to side effects. And when I get side effects I automatically start to believe the worst is happening and I will be dead soon. It’s a severe anxiety thing. My anxiety disorder tends to center around medical-based things.

    My doctor will give me just about any pill I need to combat side effects. Nausea, headaches, etc. etc.

    I know that these medicines can make you very tired so I am going to go on 1 to 2 long walks per day. I walk my dog at least four times a day so I will just make two of those walks a tiny bit longer even one extra block will help

    • Allison Cumbee Haskell says:

      Don’t be nervous , my husband was to, but he has done very very well.. he says the start of living without feeling like he is dying… he has had no side affects and been taking now 3 1/2 weeks. Good Luck, he does drink Ultra Nourish daily every morning started that 2 months before Harvoni he said he felt somewhat better after a week on that, he mixes banana, strawberries, blueberries and other fresh fruit… alternates blend all together .

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