by Terry Kozmor
A common misconception is that only nutrition affects our gut health. While what we eat certainly plays a big role in our gut health, that is just one piece of the puzzle. Physical activity is just as important as nutrition. Frequent exercise and a healthy gut go hand in hand. Let’s explore three ways that exercise affects the gut.
One of the prime benefits of daily physical activity is that exercise helps keep us regular. When we exercise, our intestines naturally contract and pass waste through our system. It is important to keep the digestive system working on a regular basis and exercise clearly plays a huge role in that. Cardiovascular workouts, stretching, yoga, and weight lifting are all ideal ways to get moving!
The vast majority of our immune system is found within our gut. According to Harvard Medical School, over 100 trillion bacteria live in our gut microbiome. (1) These gut microbiota, both good and bad, contribute to preventing disease and improving our overall health. The cycle is quite simple: consistent exercise improves our gut health, which improves our immune system, which keeps us healthy. So, next time you are struggling to motivate yourself to hit the gym, just think of the diseases you are fighting off by breaking a sweat.
We all can agree that exercising makes us feel better, but how does it improve us on the inside? Well, in a recent study, researchers found that participants who implemented a steady fitness regimen improved the healthy microbes in their gut after just six weeks. Similarly, they found that the gut reverted back to its prior state after another six weeks of sedentary behavior. (2) This demonstrates how effective exercise can be—and more importantly, how quickly our bodies can show the positive (and negative) effects of exercise. It is important to commit to at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
The best combination for a healthy gut is consistent exercise and a nutritious diet. The two work as a team and one cannot be highly successful without the other. Ixcela understands that adding a new exercise routine can seem like a big commitment, and supports making small, realistic goals when you’re getting started. Resources and guidance are also available to help you every step of the way. Whether you are new to working out or are a long-time fitness activist, remember to take it one day at a time. Consistency is the key to building and maintaining internal and external fitness.
Terry Kozmor has been in the health and wellness industry for more than 15 years. After graduating from Northeastern University with a degree in exercise science, he began his career in fitness. In addition to being Ixcela’s fitness expert, Terry is also the Director of Fitness at Lynx Fitness Club in Boston, Mass., where he oversees a group of specialized personal trainers, group fitness instructors, and nutritionists. He is an avid athlete himself and you can often find him outside snowboarding, surfing, or hiking.
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Interested in learning more about Ixcela? Check out Ixcela’s microbiome test, personalized nutrition and fitness plans, and other tools to help you optimize your health.
1. Harvard Health Publishing. “Can Gut Bacteria Improve Your Health?” Harvard Health, Oct. 2016, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-gut-bacteria-improve-your-health.2.
2. Pratt, Elizabeth. “Research Says Exercise Also Improves Your Gut Bacteria,” Healthline, 12 Jan. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health-news/exercise-improves-your-gut-bacteria#2.