Get Moving: 6 Ways Exercise Improves Gastrointestinal Health

Last updated on October 17th, 2023 at 01:16 pm

You probably know that exercise improves your heart health, but did you know that it also improves gastrointestinal health? Exercise is a simple and effective way to decrease the discomfort of several digestive issues. And you don’t have to train for a marathon to see the benefits.

1. Improves digestion

Gentle exercise after eating, such as a 15 – 20 minute walk can help your body digest your meal, improve the regularity of your bowels, and decrease discomfort from gas and bloating.

2. Reduces stress

Stress is a common underlying contributor to several digestive problems, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Exercise of any type, done on a regular basis, is a great way to reduce stress and improve gastrointestinal health.

3. Prevents obesity

Obesity and being overweight can cause many different gastrointestinal diseases and can reduce your body’s response to treatments for those conditions. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and can support a healthier immune system. This helps lessen the symptoms of gastrointestinal problems and can help your body respond better to treatments your doctor may prescribe.

4. Eases constipation

If you experience constipation regularly, exercise can help ease the symptoms and promote regularity. Exercise helps move food along your digestive tract faster, which aids in keeping water in your stool, allowing for easier bowel movements.

5. Decreases risk of diverticular disease

As people age, the risk of developing diverticular disease increases. To combat this, exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of diverticulosis. Rigorous exercise, like running, helps the most, but even gentle exercise can help reduce the risk and symptoms compared to spending a lot of time sitting.

6. Helps prevent colon cancer

Evidence suggests that exercise can decrease the risk of colon cancer. Considering that the risk of developing colon cancer for the general population is about 1 in 25, it is imperative to take steps to decrease risk wherever possible – exercise is just one way to reduce the risk.

It is likely no surprise that regular exercise is important for many aspects of maintaining a healthy body and the gastrointestinal tract is no exception. Aim to include regular exercise in your lifestyle, and you will enjoy the benefits of a functioning, healthy gastrointestinal system.

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