Exercise Helps Your Gut In More Ways Than You Think


The benefits of exercise include superior heart health, lean muscle strength, fat loss, and a happy mood- but recent research takes it one step further, saying that it could benefit your gut bacteria, too.

Though most research focusing on gut bacteria has relied upon dietary methods for improving gut bacteria health, this new study from University College Cork sheds light on the fact that it’s more than what you stick in your body that counts — exercise plays just as crucial of a role in your gut bacteria’s ecosystem strength.

The study was published online in the journal Gut. It realized that professional athletes had more gut bacteria diversity than non-athletes; a healthy and versatile gut bacteria ecosystem has been associated with things like low obesity rates and fewer mental disorder symptoms (like those associated with ADHD and anxiety). On the other side of things, less diverse guts had higher inflammation rates and indicators of metabolic syndrome like weight gain and insulin resistance.

Researchers evaluated the blood and bowel movements of 40 professional rugby players who were intensely training. Next, they compared those samples to blood and fecal matter of a control group consisting of 46 healthy men (but non-athletes) who were similar to the rugby players’ body composition profile.

To no one’s surprise, the athletes were in superior shape to the control group, as the rugby players were metabolically healthier than the members of the control group with a higher BMI. Furthermore, they also had lower inflammation than all members of the control group- even though they had more of an enzyme indicative of muscle damage because of their training regime.

However, the research team also noted that the athletes had significantly more varied microbiota than the control group- and they displayed a particularly high amount of the bacteria species Akkermansiaceae, which is linked with lower obesity and metabolic disease rates.

Specifically, researchers saw 22 phyla, 68 families, and 113 genera of bacteria samples in athletes; the lower-BMI members of the control group had 11 phyla, 33 families and 65 genera, while the higher-BMI group members had little gut diversity with nine phyla, 33 families and 61 genera.


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