Your Hepatitis C Exercise Plan

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Man exercising

Exercise is important when you have hepatitis C. It can help you shed pounds or maintain a healthy weight. That matters, because being overweight can lead to deposits in your liver, called fatty liver.

Over time, having hepatitis C and fatty liver can cause a serious condition called cirrhosis. Fatty liver can also make treatments for hepatitis C less effective.

Even More Benefits of Exercise

Beyond controlling your weight, exercising when you have hepatitis C can also help with:

  • Boosting your immune system

  • Decreasing some side effects from hepatitis C medications such as fatigue, anxiety, and muscle and body aches

  • Improving your appetite—certain medications and cirrhosis can make it difficult to eat

  • Reducing your risk for diabetes, which is more common in people with hepatitis C

What Type of Workout Should You Do?

Now that you know why it’s so important to get moving, it helps to know where to start. With hepatitis C, low-impact exercise is best. Some examples include:

  • Bike riding

  • Dancing

  • Swimming

  • Walking

  • Water aerobics

How Much Exercise Do I Need?

If you’re new to exercise, start slow and gradually increase your activity. You might begin with a 10-minute walk or bike ride a few days per week. When you feel stronger, add a few more 10-minute blocks of exercise throughout your day. Work toward a total of 15 to 30 minutes of activity three to five days per week.

Exercise at a pace that’s comfortable for you, and be sure to take rest breaks when you need them. Always talk with your doctor before starting an exercise plan, to make sure it’s right for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Exercise is important when you have hepatitis C. Being overweight can lead to fatty deposits in your liver, which can cause cirrhosis.

  • Exercise can also boost your immune system, decrease medication side effects, and reduce your risk for diabetes.

  • Low-impact activity is best, such as walking, biking, and swimming.

  • Start slowly and work toward a goal of 15 to 30 minutes, three to five days per week.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 Oct 4

  1. Hepatitis C treatment. FamilyDoctor.org. Accessed Sept. 12, 2014. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-c/treatment.html

  2. Physical activity for arthritis fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed Aug. 25, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/pa_factsheet.htm

  3. Diet and nutrition: entire lesson. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Accessed Aug. 25, 2014. http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/patient/daily/diet/single-page.asp

  4. Hepatitis C treatment side effects management chart. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Accessed Aug. 25, 2014. http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/products/patient/side-effects-chart.asp

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