We may think about what we consume as the only factors that influence our gut microbiome: the foods, pre- and probiotics, hydration, etc. We have spent the past several months exploring all these factors.
What we may not have realized is that our activity/exercise level can affect our gut microbiome as well. In very fit individuals, recent studies have shown several improvements in the gut microbiome in elite athletes. These were improvements in beneficial short-chain fatty acids that were produced by the microbiome, and also good bacteria production was more balanced in fit individuals. They also had improvements in several other factors in the gut the helps reduce fatigue.
But what if we are not elite athletes? How much exercise do we need to show benefits for our gut microbiome? The good news is that the same recommendations for exercise to keep ourselves active, healthy and keep our bones strong also show great benefit for our gut microbiome, and produce some of the same benefits as the elite athletes.
Engaging in 150 minutes of at least moderate activity (brisk walking, elliptical, dancing, running) each week, gives us better gut motility, which helps keep our gut microbiome renewing itself. It also has an impact on improving the good bacteria so that the overall gut microbiome remains in the proper balance. Couple this with 2 days of strength training of about 30 minutes each and we have achieved a great exercise routine four our overall health, including our gut.
What does this look like for the average person? Well, a brisk 50- minute walk 3 days a week and then sit ups, squats and pushups for 30 minutes 2 days a week meets that activity goal very easily. We don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or a gym membership to achieve this, a good pair of sneakers and some light hand weights get the job done. So, make a plan and flex those muscles!