Did you know that physical activity plays a role in the health of our digestive system? The digestive system contains muscles which need to be exercised regularly, just like the rest of our body!
Although the digestive muscles aren’t independently performing bench presses or lunges, both strength training exercises and aerobic activities support the health of our gut.
Exercise has been shown to improve the overall health of our digestive system in a variety of ways. Firstly, exercise creates an environment that supports beneficial bacteria to flourish, while discouraging the growth of harmful bacteria. Secondly, exercise helps to keep stool moving through our bowels. This is important because when the stool is allowed to sit stagnant (constipation) pathogenic bacteria within the stool has increased contact with the gastrointestinal lining. This increased contact can disrupt the protective layer, leading to damage, and can play a role in “leaky gut”.
What’s “leaky gut” you ask? Well, let’s first briefly discuss how a healthy digestive tract lining functions.
In a healthy gut, the lining, made up of epithelial cells & a mucosal layer, is a strong defense that effectively regulates what is able to pass through the lining and into our general circulation. Nutrients and water are allowed through, while toxins, waste or other potentially harmful particles are not.
In a “leaky gut”, the integrity of the digestive tract lining becomes compromised and it has a difficult time performing its usual tasks. Therefore the above-mentioned waste, toxins and potentially harmful particles may be able to sneak through where there can then go on to wreak havoc by causing damage & inflammation throughout the body.
Therefore, doing what we can to prevent this leakiness is extremely important. Ensuring you include regular exercise is one piece of the puzzle in supporting a healthy digestive system.
I hope this gives you another reason to get moving! Whether your preferred activity is playing an organized sport, weight training or running in the forest (or all three!), your digestive system will thank you!
Want to read more on this topic? Check out the following links!