Exercise may change the composition and activity of the trillions of microbes in our guts in ways that could improve our health and metabolisms over time, a new study finds.
The results provide novel insights into how exercise can affect even those portions of our bodies that seem uninvolved in workouts, perhaps providing another nudge to stick with our exercise resolutions this year.
I think we all have heard by now that each of us contains a pulsating little universe of bacteria within our guts. This microbiome includes countless different species of microbes in varying proportions that interact, compete and busily release various substances that are implicated in weight control, inflammation, immune responses and many other aspects of health throughout our bodies.
In broad terms, our microbiomes tend to be relatively stable, most studies show. But our microbiomes can change as our lifestyles do. Diet clearly affects the makeup of a person’s microbiome, as do illness, certain drugs, how much we weigh and other factors.
Exercise also has been associated with variations in the microbiome. Past studies have shown that endurance athletes tend to have a somewhat different collection of microbes within their intestines than sedentary people do, especially if the athletes are lean and the sedentary people are not.