Daily exercise – good for the gut microbiome

For many of us, everyday life involves a lot of sitting. We might drive the car or take a bus to work, where we spend time in front of the computer, only to return home and crash on the couch watching TV. Breaking our sedentary patterns and making sure we move around every day has lots of health benefits, as well as leaving us feeling more energetic and happier. It also helps the good bacteria in our gut, making us more resilient to infections, stress and more. In this article, we explain what daily exercise means and tell you more about all the positive effects regular exercise has on both your gut microbiome and your overall health.

What is daily exercise?  

Our health is affected by how much we move, and extended periods of inactivity are one of the major culprits in this regard. Even if we work out at the gym or enjoy a sweaty tennis match a few times a week, we need daily exercise to keep both our body and our brain healthy. Everyday exercise is just that – exercise that is a natural part of life. Daily exercise can be anything from cycling or walking to work, choosing the stairs over the lift, taking a walk at lunch and getting up for gardening and housework.  

It is recommended that we move for at least 30 minutes every day, in a way that makes us a little breathless. How long and how we exercise can of course be adapted to our age and individual circumstances. For example, if you want to divide your 30 minutes into shorter periods, that’s fine too, but at least 10 minutes at a time is preferable. In general, the more movement we can fit into our daily lives, the better we feel and the less negative the effects of sitting still.  

“For exercise to have the desired effect, it should include a significant element of effort; you should be slightly out of breath and preferably a little sweaty, at least between the shoulder blades.” ~ Professor Stig Bengmark 

Daily exercise has many health benefits 

We are not made for the sedentary lifestyle many of us lead today – on the contrary, we are made to move. When we exercise, lots of positive things happen in our bodies that make us both more energetic and stronger. Regular exercise can even reduce the risk of several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, bone fractures and mental health problems such as dementia and depression. 

Stronger muscles protect both joints and bones. At the same time, our mobility and balance improve, which in turn reduces the risk of injuries from falls and broken bones. Regular exercise also has a positive impact on our blood lipids, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. 

Another positive health effect of everyday exercise is that it increases blood circulation, allowing cells to absorb more oxygen. This makes it easier for the body to deal with harmful things, such as increased levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Thanks to regular exercise, we become more resilient to stress and we sleep better.  

Our brain also benefits. When we move, the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are released, which immediately make us feel happier. We also release endorphins, commonly known as the body’s own morphine, when we exercise, which makes us feel both happier and more alert. In addition, our memory improves, we learn new things and solve problems more easily, and we concentrate better. At the same time, exercise causes muscle cells to start producing proteins, which are then released into the bloodstream. These proteins act as painkillers, stimulants and stress and depression relievers. Regular exercise also improves brain performance, giving us both better impulse control and reducing anxiety.  

Daily exercise is important for the gut microbiome 

Research shows that exercise has a positive impact on the gut microbiome and the good bacteria that live there. Studies of people who were sitting a lot and started exercising regularly showed that the amount of gut bacteria that increase the production of important short-chain fatty acids that protect us against gastrointestinal diseases and colon cancer, among others, increased in all of them.  

Studies also show that people who exercise regularly have a different gut microbiome than people with a more sedentary lifestyle. When the gut microbiome is balanced and healthy, it becomes more resistant to stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.  

However, intense workouts are not only positive, they can also have a destructive effect on the body, temporarily weakening our immune system and making us more susceptible to infections. Daily exercise is a more gentle way to exercise, as it does not weaken the body in the same way. At the same time, exercise strengthens our gut microbiome, which is home to as much as 70% of our immune system. This also makes us less susceptible to the infections that can occur when we work out.   

Read more about exercise, which is one of our founder Professor Stig Bengmark’s three pillars of good health, along with healthy eating and stress control 

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