Can Exercise Benefit the Health of Your Gut?

Today’s topic is on the little microbes that live inside us!

Our gut contains trillions of microorganisms, otherwise known as our gut microbiota. These organisms help us digest dietary components which we cannot on our own. An imbalance in our gut microbiota, either a disproportion or lack of diversity, can play a role in disease development. Our lifestyle behaviours, such as our diets, can heavily influence our gut microbiota. The latest hypothesis is that exercise can influence our gut.

A recent study analyzed the influence of exercise and diet on our microbiota. Clarke et al. (2014) studied 40 elite rugby athletes and reported that they had a more diverse microbiota compared to non-athletic, sedentary participants. The athletes also consumed more protein which correlated with microbiota diversity.

The authors conclude that the combination of exercise and protein consumption by the athletes may partially explain the greater diversity of the gut microbiota.

Of course there is no delineation between diet and exercise in this study. Future studies should determine whether a change in exercise can change our microbiota composition, independent of diet. This is an interesting avenue of research, as exercise can potentially help gastric diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Although more research is required before we can conclude that exercise can help our gut, exercise has a ton of other benefits as I have previously listed, and is worth engaging in!

Interestingly, other studies have reported that protein may negatively influence our gut microbiota and cause toxic byproducts. Therefore it is worth investigating how different sources of protein impact our guts. Protein has great benefits, so enjoy this list of healthy plant based protein and keep your eyes open for a future post regarding your diet and microbiota!


-Stay healthy!

Clarke, S. F., Murph, E. F., O’Sullivan, O., et al. (2014). Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity. Gut.