How Physical Activity Supports Digestion

One more benefit from exercise

What can you do to feel good right now? Get moving! Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins and dopamine, burns calories, helps to regulate the body, and promotes healthy digestion. Our bodies are designed to keep moving throughout the day. Being active consistently can also improve moods, decrease anxiety, and maintain healthy joints. The best physical activity is the one you’ll do consistently.

Targeted exercise therapies have been developed to treat those suffering from IBS with reported improvements in symptoms of the disorder. Exercise also promotes cognition and improved symptoms of both mood and psychological disorders among humans. Cognitive improvements have been observed among stroke patients, while symptoms of depression and schizophrenia have also been improved after aerobic exercise training. Interestingly, the improvements observed among IBS patients after exercise were linked to changes in mental health and emotion. Evidence suggests that the bacterial diversity of the gut contributes to the disordered state of GI disorders by negatively impacting GI function and the psychological state.

The Best Kinds of Exercise for Digestion

You don’t need to become a marathon runner overnight. The best kinds of physical activity that support optimal digestion are those that you do regularly and those that offer benefits to your body without overworking or stressing it. Too much exercise can tax the digestive system.

If you want to add physical activity to your regular routine, consider something that is easy to maintain and easy to start from scratch. Going for daily walks before or after meals is a great way to ease into it. Starting a daily yoga practice, even just for 10 minutes, can also have benefits. Several studies have identified yoga as a proven mode of exercise to improve symptoms of IBS and depression.

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Research continues on how exercise can make modifications to intestinal bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses, which could directly influence the response to exercise. Research should also aim to describe aspects of the lifestyle as well as possible, including diet, the level of training, and sedentary behavior.

Although the exact causal relationship is unknown, current evidence allows for the assumption that exercise may facilitate a bidirectional relationship between the gut and brain through alterations in the microbiome. This relationship may explain why exercise can be a therapeutic factor and strategy for both psychological and GI disorders.  Although there is not a direct link between exercise and digestion, there certainly is evidence that exercise improves gut health and the gut brain relationship.

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