You know that exercise is essential for optimal health, but did you know that it might directly benefit your gastrointestinal tract? It turns out that regular physical activity and certain exercises might support your health and well-being in ways you might not have previously imagined.
Physical Activity And Your Digestive Health: How Might Exercise Affect The Digestive Tract?
There’s now a growing amount of evidence that exercise may have a positive impact on digestion and potentially help with the following:
- Constipation – Few digestive problems cause more frustration and stress than constipation. However, one study showed that exercise may support normal bowel movements.1,2,3
- Gallstones – Gallstones can be excruciating. However, according to the results of one study, people who exercise regularly are up to 70 percent less likely to develop these painful stones.4
What Can Exercise Do To Support Digestion?
The “gut microbiota” is the term given to the microbes that live in your stomach and the rest of your gastrointestinal tract. In order for your digestive system to function as it should, this environment needs to be healthy.5
So, what does this have to do with exercise?
Research indicates that exercise has a major impact on the amount of “good” bacteria in the gut. These are microbes that help your digestive health, rather than harm it. A study found that exercise could help change the composition of the gut microbiome, and reduce the amount of microbes associated with issues such as obesity, cardiovascular problems, and other serious health issues.6,7
Exercises For Digestion: Yoga Postures, Biking, And Other Aerobic Exercise
There are a few types of exercises that appear to help support digestive function. Aerobic exercise, for example, may help to keep your intestines working the way they should. Whether you enjoy biking, playing basketball, swimming, or something else, aerobic exercise may also help if you suffer from constipation.8
If you suffer from bloating, consider trying some sit-ups or pelvic floor muscles. They may be able to help reduce your discomfort.9
Is There A Connection Between Yoga, Stress, And Digestion?
Yoga is another physical exercise that may support digestive health. If you experience high levels of stress, there’s a chance you may have stomach and digestive issues as a result. Stress has been linked to many problems affecting the digestive organs.10 Yoga has been shown to help reduce stress, so it stands to reason it may in turn support digestion as well.11
If you’re new to yoga, start out slowly with a basic pose. The child’s pose, for example, is a very simple but beneficial pose. You just get on your knees, keeping them about the same width as your shoulders. Move your hips toward your heels while keeping your arms outstretched. Do this while breathing slowly and deeply. Take between 4-12 breaths, release the pose, and then repeat.12
The child’s pose may not only promote relaxation, but it also may be able to “massage” your abdominal organs, supporting digestion.13
Talk to your doctor before trying these or any other kinds of exercises. You want to make sure you can do so safely, without endangering your health.
Exercising To Support Digestion: In The End
There’s a lot of solid scientific evidence that exercising regularly can benefit the digestive organs and support digestive function.
If you experience digestive issues regularly you may do more than prioritizing exercise. Talk to a doctor about your digestive discomfort or concerns and ask whether or not aerobic exercise, yoga, or any other kind of physical activity may help.
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