Increasing your exercise benefits your gut bacteria

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A new study has shown that exercise changes the microbiome of those previously sedentary.

The diversity of bacteria in the gut has long been known to afford health benefits and is noticeably distinct in elite athletes. Although it has been widely acknowledged that increased activity is better for your health overall, it has not been shown that a short term exercise intervention, for someone who had been previously sedentary, would replicate this gut profile.

All is not lost, however! As part of the NIHR Imperial BRC Gut Health theme, researchers have collaborated with the National University of Ireland to better understand what effect exercise has on the microbiome of those who had previously been sedentary.

And the news is positive; the participants saw a reduction in BMI and overall fitness, but perhaps more pertinently, an increase in the diversity of gut microbiota. This is an important discovery, as the trial was undertaken in a real-world setting, so gives insight into the changes made to the gut microbiome as exercise increases over three to four months. Although the microbiome and metabolome did not appear similar to elite athletes after the intervention, a noticeable improvement was seen.

This trial is a really important first step –  the sample size was only of two participants so cannot be generalisable for everyone, but it gives positive insight for future studies.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

More information on the study can be found here.

  • Dr Isabel Garcia-Perez
    Dr Isabel Garcia-Perez
    Lecturer in Precision & Systems Medicine
  • Professor Elaine Holmes
    Professor Elaine Holmes