Though diet is the most influential factor in determining which microbes are in your gut, environmental factors play a role too. Exercise is an important environmental factor shown to positively affect the gut microbiome – but only if it’s not excessive.
Specifically, moderate exercise can:
1. Enrich microbiota diversity – Which is important for signaling along the brain-gut access and body homeostasis.
2. Improve the Bacteroides to Firmicutes ratio – Which helps healthy weight maintenance and reduces risk for obesity-related conditions.
3. Stimulate bacteria known to improve the gastrointestinal lining barrier functions – Which can help fight obesity and metabolic diseases.
4. Stimulate bacteria activities beneficial to human health – Some protect against gastrointestinal disorders and colon cancer.
In case you needed another motivator to get up and go for a run, here it is – when you exercise, you can improve the health of your gut microbiome, which may make it easier for you to stay lean and healthy overall.
However, just like so many things in life, you can have too much of a good thing. In the case of exercise, regular overexertion appears to hurt the health of the gut microbiome.
Extreme physical exercise can cause dysbiosis – an imbalance of the gut microbiome – which is a major underlying cause of many diseases. This means in some cases, over exercising could cause you more harm than good.
Extreme athletes put incredible demands on their body when they train, both physiologically and biochemically. When an elite athlete repeatedly exposes their body to these drastic physiological circumstances, it can disrupt the body’s homeostasis, overwhelm the organs, and affect normal function.
The key to exercising in a way that’s ideal for your health means finding the right balance for you and your gut microbiome. Finding this takes personal experimentation.
If you aren’t a professional athlete but exercise regularly, chances are your workouts aren’t having a dramatically negative impact on your gut microbiome.
For more information on gut health, download our free "Secrets to a Healthy Gut" Guide on the homepage!