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Enjoy the summertime sun with gut-friendly movement

The warm days of summer are quickly approaching, and there’s no better time to get moving.

Published:

June 8, 2023

Written by:

Dr. Erin Hendriks

Board-Certified Physician

Medically Reviewed by:

Published:

November 20, 2023

From Our Doctors
From Our Doctors
IBS
IBS
Lifestyle
Lifestyle
Microbiome
Microbiome
Movement
Movement
Research
Research
Whole Self Science
Whole Self Science

Exercise is well known for its positive impact on the heart, but regular physical activity is also important for keeping your gut running smoothly. 

So, how does movement affect my gut? 

For one, physical activity helps to stimulate the muscles in your digestive tract, promoting the movement of food and waste through the system. Bowel movements are more frequent for people who regularly engage in physical activity and exercise is an important tool for preventing constipation.1 Furthermore, regular movement has been linked to a healthier gut microbiome, which also plays a crucial role in gut health.2 

What exercises work for my gut condition?

Choosing the right type of exercise is important if you suffer from a chronic GI condition such as GERD or IBS. For example, people with IBS may want to avoid high intensity exercises that involve leaping or quick weight changes opting for lower impact activities like: 

  • Walking
  • Cycling 
  • Pilates 

When starting any exercise routine it is important you start slow, gradually building over time to avoid injury.  NOTE: Reflux symptoms can be triggered by activities that require forward bending such as cycling or rowing so those with GERD may want to avoid these types of activities.

While summer is a wonderful time to start a movement program, there are a few considerations you will want to keep in mind when exercising in the summer heat. 

  1. First of all, take care to keep yourself properly hydrated as dehydration can lead to cramps and constipation. 
  2. High intensity or endurance exercises should be avoided in the heat as this can worsen GI symptoms.3 
  3. In general, avoid the hottest hours of the day and opt for morning or evening workouts instead.  

No matter what type of physical activity you enjoy, it can have a positive impact on digestion. From brisk walks to yoga sessions, the key is to find something that you love and that can be done regularly. Even simple movements like stretching or taking the stairs can contribute to better gut health. And with the warm weather and longer days of summer, there’s never been a better time to get up and get moving!

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Written by:

Dr. Erin Hendriks

Board-Certified Physician

References:

  1. Zhou C, Zhao E, Li Y, Jia Y, Li F. Exercise therapy of patients with irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2019 Feb;31(2):e13461. doi: 10.1111/nmo.13461. Epub 2018 Sep 19. PMID: 30232834.
  1. Clauss M, Gérard P, Mosca A, Leclerc M. Interplay Between Exercise and Gut Microbiome in the Context of Human Health and Performance. Front Nutr. 2021 Jun 10;8:637010. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.637010. PMID: 34179053; PMCID: PMC8222532.
  1. Etxebarria N, Beard NA, Gleeson M, Wallett A, McDonald WA, Pumpa KL, Pyne DB. Dietary Intake and Gastrointestinal Integrity in Runners Undertaking High-Intensity Exercise in the Heat. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2021 Jul 1;31(4):314-320. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2020-0367. Epub 2021 May 23. PMID: 34030124.