Written By Microbiome Plus+


Let me start out by quoting Gene Tunney here, “to enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.”

This quote could be an eye-opener for anyone who is not physically active on a regular basis.

Nonetheless, if you still need one more nudge to work out those muscles — think about the beneficial impact of exercise on the health of your gut microbiome. Does that stir up motivation?

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of exercise for the health of your gut microbiome and then the positive effects of a healthy gut microbiome on your health overall.

Exercise changes the makeup of gut microbiota

Exercise as simple as a 30-minutes morning walk can revamp the health of your tiny gut partners — the beneficial bacteria.

Dr. Jeffrey Woods along with his colleagues showed how physical exercise modifies the composition of gut microbiota. [1] Most noticeable was a shift in gut bacteria that were capable of producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in fit people.

What are SCFAs? They are incredibly beneficial compounds generated when friendly gut bacteria ferment dietary fiber in your colon. They not only help prevent and treat obesity and metabolic syndrome, but also bowel disorders and certain types of cancer. Exercise induces the friendly bugs to churn out SCFAs, which in turn, appear to offer all these health benefits and even more! [2]

Other than simple exercises like walking, endurance exercises such as swimming and cycling also benefit gut health. These exercises lower the number of bugs that cause inflammation and raise the levels of microbes that boost metabolism. The good bugs may then, in turn, help supply the working muscles with the fuel they need. [3]

Healthy bacteria produced as a result of exercise further amplify the benefits by improving some of the other exercise-induced instabilities in your gut like oxidative stress and dehydration. [4]

Stopping exercise could reverse the gut microbial makeup

Dr. Woods also noticed in his study that returning to a sedentary lifestyle largely reverses the benefits of exercise. When you quit exercising, the gut microbial makeup reverts back to what it was before exercise. This tells us that exercise needs to be done on a regular basis and that quitting exercise will undo most of its benefits, including a healthy gut makeover. A drop in the number of good bugs after quitting exercise accounts for this change. [1]

In other words, the effects of dropping exercise are similar to that of taking a probiotic. The effects of both last while you’re on them but disappear once you stop them. However, if you still decide to take a break from your exercise routine, be sure to supplement a high-quality probiotic.

More needs to be known

Despite the studies about the benefits of exercise on gut health, the answer to whether these benefits are long-lasting on the gut or not is yet to be known.

Every step you take is towards a healthier you

The impact of exercise on the gut microbiome framework is still in its infancy. However, in light of the above facts, it wouldn’t be surprising to say that exercise alone can improve the health of your gut microbiome and thus your health in general. Experts therefore often recommend both exercise and probiotics to keep your gut health on the right track.


  1. Allen JM, Mailing LJ, Niemiro GM et al. Exercise Alters Gut Microbiota Composition and Function in Lean and Obese Humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018;50(4):747-757.
  2. den Besten G, van Eunen K, Groen AK, Venema K, Reijngoud DJ, Bakker BM. The role of short-chain fatty acids in the interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and host energy metabolism. J Lipid Res. 2013;54(9):2325–2340. doi:10.1194/jlr.R036012.
  3. Mach N, Fuster-Botella D. Endurance exercise and gut microbiota: A review. J Sport Health Sci. 2016;6(2):179–197. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2016.05.001.
  4. Useros NR et al. HYDRAGUT study: Influence of HYDRAtion status on the GUT microbiota and their impact on the immune system. Nutrition. 2015; 593.1.



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