The 5 Best Exercises for Gut Health
Is improving your health on your New Year’s resolution list this year? Oftentimes it’s at the top of everyone’s list. We all want to lose weight, feel more energetic, and look a little better (especially after binging on holiday foods).
Well, the best way to improve your health is going to be through your gut.
And according to researchers one of the best ways to do that is by exercising. Unfortunately, just any exercise won’t do. When it comes to the gut there are certain exercises that will improve your health and others that can actually cause more problems. (You can read more about the specifics of this here.)
If you want to fast track your more healthy goal, stick around to learn what exercises are going to help keep your gut healthy and burn that extra adipose tissue around your waistline!
How Does Exercise Improve Gut Health?
So the first thing crossing your mind might be, “how is exercising going to balance the bacteria in my gut?” And that is a great question!
You see, when you exercise your metabolic processes are kicked into high gear because your body needs to circulate your blood quicker to get more oxygen to your muscles, lungs, and brain.
The following are some of the different ways exercise can improve your gut health is by:
- Exercise reduces the transient stool time (or the amount of time it takes you to pass your stool from when you eat) which prevents bad bacterial strains from populating in your gut
- Reducing the inflammation that can cause leaky gut (light exercise does this, endurance exercise can make this worse)
- Voluntary exercise can help prevent colon cancer and IBD by increasing n-butyrate levels which is a metabolic byproduct of bacterial fermentation of foods within our gut
- Many studies show that regardless of diet, exercise improves the diversity of microflora within the gut
- Exercise improving your gut health also has positive effects on your heart health through the gut-heart axis by preventing atherosclerosis.
Basically, the metabolic reactions within your body help to improve the metabolic reactions within your gut which improve digestive time and functionality.
How Can Exercise Cause Gut Health Problems and How Can You Avoid Them?
Now just because there are all of these benefits doesn’t mean it is without risk. When exercise is taken to an extreme it can cause problems like a leaky gut.
Endurance athletes who train for events that push their body to their max (and sometimes further) are at the most risk for exercise-induced GI problems. People who have a typically sedentary lifestyle can end up with the same issues if they start training too hard too quickly.
Some common symptoms of exercise-induced GI problems include:
Fortunately, there is new research coming out on how to “train your gut” to avoid exercise-related problems. This is a similar concept to people participating in the hotdog eating challenges. There are ways to train your gut to be able to perform with you during these events. It seems as though the best ways for athletes to avoid GI issues from their workouts is to:
- Train with large fluid volumes in the stomach on a regular basis
- Train immediately after eating
- Train while intaking carbohydrates
By doing these different things athletes experienced less bloating and abdominal discomfort while increasing gastric emptying and performance.
The 5 Best Exercises for Better Gut Health
That being said, you probably don’t want to be training your gut in that way just to get some workouts squeezed into your already hectic routine. So here are some exercises that are gentle on your gut but still improve the diversity within it and make you more healthy overall.
Walking for at least 20 minutes
Walking is always the first thing suggested for people suffering from constipation and there’s a good reason for it. First off, it’s a low impact exercise which makes it easier to add to your daily routine because it won’t cause you pain.
But here are some other reasons why walking may be the most superior exercise you can do for your body:
- Walking helps your body to digest protein and amino acids better. Protein can often be difficult to digest and walking helped to reduce the amount of time it takes the body to digest proteins.
- Walking helps your body to extract and circulate more phenolics from foods. Polyphenols are beneficial products that are found in plant-based foods. However, getting them to be accessible for our body to use can be difficult if our gut health isn’t at its prime. Walking helped to unlock more phenolics and helped to circulate them better. This would help to improve your microbial diversity since they love polyphenols. (So in a sense walking can improve the benefits of the Atrantil you take)
Dance and Yoga
Dance and yoga are two exercises that are also very low impact but pack great results for your health.
One study with girls who suffer from functional abdominal pain disorders found that both dancing and yoga had a significant positive impact on their pain-related symptoms.
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are now being used for helping constipation. Biofeedback therapy is one where the therapist helps you to single out muscles that are typically not used and teaches you how to use them for a specific purpose or benefit.
Biofeedback therapy is being used and has been proven to be more effective than laxatives for dyssynergia defecation which is an advanced form of constipation. Most of the teachings focus on the pelvic floor to help ease bowel movements.
Since it works for such an advanced form of chronic constipation, it might be worth trying if constipation is how your gut issues present themselves.
If you’re looking to start implementing intermittent fasting in the new year, you may want to consider adding Qigong to the list. Fasting is great for your gut health when done the right way. But the hunger pains can make it almost impossible to keep up (depending on the type of fasting you’re doing).
Qigong breathing exercises helped to
- Increase stomach pH
- Reduce intestinal pressure
- Suppress the feeling of hunger
The slow flow of Qigong, like yoga, can help to improve digestion as well.
Abdominal workouts are great to increase the fat burn and metabolic rates within your body. When focusing on your abdominal fat deposits, you’re helping your body to reduce inflammation and inflammatory biomarkers. This helps your gut by allowing your healthy bacteria to do their jobs better. Reducing the extra fat tissue in your midsection will help your tummy inside and out.
All of these different ways can help to improve your gut, heart, and entire body health. What are your favorite ways to exercise and have you ever noticed a difference in your gut health from them? Let us know in the comment section below!