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The Connection Between Liver Health and Physical Fitness

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Researchers of a study investigated the association between health-related physical fitness and liver function indicators in hopes of finding potential preventative measures and personalized exercise prescriptions for those living with liver complications.

Health-related physical fitness (HPF) may play a crucial role in liver function screening, particularly for women, according to a recent study published in BMC Public Health.

Physical fitness has long been a main ingredient when it comes to health and wellbeing. According to the World Health Organization, or the WHO, HPF is described as the body's ability to carry out daily tasks without excessive fatigue, leaving energy for leisure activities and emergencies. It’s made of body composition, cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, balance, and flexibility.

Maintaining normal HPF levels has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension. However, liver health has been difficult to detect early on due to its silent development without obvious symptoms.

Researchers of the study in BMC investigated the association between HPF and liver function indicators in hopes of finding potential preventative measures and personalized exercise prescriptions for those living with liver complications.

The study was conducted with 330 university faculty members in Shaanxi, China, who examined the correlation between various components of HPF and liver function indicators. The researchers aimed to identify HPF indicators that were strongly associated with liver function and could be monitored conveniently at home, which can help prevent more serious liver diseases in the future.

The study included 198 females and 132 males and found notable differences between the genders in terms of HPF indicators associated with liver function. In males, body fat (BF), vital capacity, and the vital capacity index were correlated with specific liver function indicators. However, these correlations were influenced by complex factors like age, smoking, diabetes, and hypertension.

On the other hand, females displayed a different set of significant correlations. BF percentage, VO2max, and vertical jump were linked to liver function. These correlations remained as is even when controlling for various factors. Data suggests that, for women, these HPF indicators are strong predictors of abnormal liver function and may serve as valuable screening tools.

One particular finding was the negative correlation between BF percentage and direct bilirubin levels in females. Additionally, VO2max showed a positive correlation with indirect bilirubin. These results shed light at the potential role of physical fitness, especially aerobic exercise, in liver health.

Other research has suggested that aerobic exercise, even at moderate intensity, could increase bilirubin levels, which might have protective effects on the liver.

However, it is essential to note the study's limitations. This includes the lack of advanced imaging and gold standard diagnostic techniques, which may have impacted the reliability of the markers used. In addition, the study focused solely on university staff, which may not capture a broader population.

Though the research highlights an important step in understanding the relationship between physical fitness and liver function. HPF indicators, which are easily measurable, could potentially be used for self-screening and evaluating liver function, especially among in-active individuals.

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