Credit: © UBER IMAGES / Fotolia

Credit: © UBER IMAGES / Fotolia

Exercise helps promote good gut bacteria independent of diet

Exercise helps promote good gut bacteria independent of diet, according to the latest research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Why is your gut so important?

Besides digesting food and making it useable for the body, the gut is also key to keeping you healthy. Science has shown that the majority of the immune system actually lives in the gut, and that the beneficial bacteria in the gut are key to fighting many diseases.

Two studies — one in mice and another in human subjects — are the first evidence that exercise alone can change the composition of gut bacteria for the better.

In the first study, the researchers transplanted fecal material from exercised and sedentary mice into the colons of sedentary germ free mice that had no microbiota of their own. Micobiota is another word for the bacteria in the gut.

In the second study, the team tracked gut bacteria in human subjects that switched back and forth from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one.

These are the first studies to show that exercise can have an effect on your gut independent of diet or other factors,” said Jeffrey Woods, a University of Illinois professor of kinesiology and community health who led the research with former doctoral student Jacob Allen, now a postdoctoral researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

In the mouse study, the mice who received the exercised mouse bacteria produced more of a short-chain fatty acid that promotes healthy intestinal cells, reduces inflammation, and increases energy. They were also more resistant to inflammatory bowel disease.

We found that the animals that received the exercised microbiota had an attenuated response to a colitis-inducing chemical,” Allen said. “There was a reduction in inflammation and an increase in the regenerative molecules that promote a faster recovery.”

The same short-chain fatty acid “butyrate” that was increased in the mice with the exercised gut bacteria was also increased in the human participants who exercised more.

Note: None of the information in our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. The content on our website is for educational purposes only. 

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1. “Exercise Changes Gut Microbial Composition Independent of Diet, Team Reports.” Illinois News Bureau, University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 4 Dec. 2017, 11:15am,

2. “Exercise Alters Gut Microbiota Composition and Function in Lean and Obese Humans.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 20 Nov. 2017,
3. “Exercise Training-Induced Modification of the Gut Microbiota Persists after Microbiota Colonization and Attenuates the Response to Chemically-Induced Colitis in Gnotobiotic Mice.” Taylor & Francis, Gut Microbes, 1 Sept. 2017,
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