As we all know, we are not alone in our bodies. Inside each and every one of us is trillions of microorganisms from bacteria to, viruses, fungi and so many other gut bugs that make up what we refer to as our microbiome. This is a topic we touch on very often and you may even have come across many articles or studies over the past years, as those little gut bugs have been causing a lot of scientists to want to research and learn more about our powerful guts.
Now we’ve spoken about the link between our gut and our brain, sleep, even the heat, but we’ve never really looked at the link between exercise and our tums. So let’s dive in!
Our microbiomes are so crucial to our overall health and wellbeing and as we’ve mentioned before, things like diet and sleep have a huge impact. When we’re stressed, our guts are stressed, what we eat, our gut has to try and break down (so if it’s not good for us, it’s not good for our guts.) Those are just two elements that play a part in what’s going on in our tums but it all ties into the reality that when your gut is happy and healthy, so is the rest of your mind and body. Now we also have lots of evidence on top of that suggesting that exercise can help modify the types of bacteria that live in our guts in a good way.
How can exercise help my gut?
One of many studies found that exercise promotes the growth of bacteria which produce the fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate can promote repair of the gut lining and reduce inflammation, which could potentially help prevent illnesses and diseases such as IBS. This doesn’t mean you have to run 10,000 every day or follow a strict and vigorous exercise regime - microbiome changes have been seen even in those that follow quite light exercise routines. For example, is this particular study found that women who performed at least three hours of light exercise per week, whether that be a brisk walk or maybe a swim, had increased levels of the bacterias Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Roseburia hominis, and Akkermansia muciniphila compared to those that weren’t active in their weeks. These bacteria strains, in particular, have been known to help reduce inflammation, meaning these changes and this positive impact on the gut, is also likely to have amazing benefits to overall health too That being said, it does appear that the type of exercise you do also has different effects on the gut. An area that has been researched quite a bit is how very different the gut microbiome is in athletes, where they are said to have an even more diverse gut and a higher supply of the three bacteria strains we spoke about above. With this in mind, we are not all athletes with crazy training schedules, but it is still important to note that exercise, no matter what level, has been proven to have a positive impact on our guts so it really shows how vital it is for us to keep moving where we can.
Tips to help you keep moving
There will always be days where we may not have the motivation to do a workout, or we just want a lazy day on the couch (we’re all human and you can’t beat a lazy day let’s be honest.) However, it’s very clear the positive impact exercise has on our guys and we also know how important it is for our overall health and wellbeing to make sure we are keeping our tums happy, so here are 3 ways to help you keep moving!
1. Schedule it!
This might sound a little lame or weird, but pencil it in your diary as you would a meeting. If you physically block that time out of your day, to go for a walk, a swim, or take a yoga class, chances are you are more likely to commit to making it happen!
2. Take the stairs
It’s very easy to get caught up in taking the escalator or the lift, but choosing the stairs is such a great way to get those steps in and get moving. So taking the stairs to your flat, office, or to get the tube, wherever it may be, will all add up and help make a difference and most important will keep your gut feeling happy.
If HIIT training or workouts at the gym aren’t for you (and they’re not everyone’s cup of tea), why not break up your day with a few mini walks. These are not only great to get your steps in, but it’s also a great way to have a little break and step away from work for example. Especially since Covid and with many people still working from home, it can be very easy to stay glued to your desk or sofa, so even just a few minutes walking around your home can help. Small breaks can help you boost productivity and get your steps in - it’s a double win!
Don’t forget, a happy and healthy gut is influenced by so many things from a nutritious diet, to how well you sleep, your mental health, exercise and so much more. All these elements work together as a team and one cannot be highly successful without the other. For those that struggle to stay active, whether you lead a busy life, medical reasons, or for fear foe example, know that any little movement can have a big impact and that all of our microbiomes are so individual and unique, that there isn’t one size fits all. So look at what works for you and set a realistic goal and take it one day at a time.