Exercise and Gut health – Keep your belly balanced by moving more

Gut health has been a hot topic lately. So, what is “gut health”, why does it matter and how can exercise help?

What is “Gut Health” & why does it matter?

We have a mini-ecosystem in our gut that helps us break down the food we eat and absorb its nutrients. These microorganisms that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) include a huge range of bacteria help to maintain “balance” in our guts.  These bacteria perform a range of protective, structural, and metabolic functions for the intestines. Our gut microbiome also affects a range of other bodily functions, including:

  • metabolism
  • immunity
  • endocrine function
  •  mental health


So, how do we keep our gut healthy?

Most of us are already aware that the food with eat can make a difference to our gut health. We are often told that we need to have more probiotics and prebiotics such as yoghurt, kimchi, and fibrous vegetables in our diet to help keep us “balanced”. Lately, researchers have looked into what other factors impact our gut health, and guess what – exercise matters!

How does exercise affect gut health?

Recent studies have shown that exercise can have a positive impact on gut health. Although more research is still needed in this area, a new relationship between gut microbiota and physical activity has been identified.

Physical activity can help gut health by:

  • Increasing diversity in the microbiome
  • Improving bacteria ratio
  • Increasing microbial diversity in the stool


Research has shown that low intensity exercise reduces the transient stool time and contact time between pathogens and gastrointestinal mucus. This means that exercise has a protective impact and reduces the risk of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases. Physical activity is also able to enrich the microflora of the gut, which contributes to reducing weight, obesity related pathologies and gastrointestinal disorders. Lastly, exercise plays an anti-inflammatory action in the gut.

Want to keep your belly balanced – well, it’s time to get moving. If you need advice on how to Exercise Right for your individual needs, chat to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP). To find an AEP near you, click here.