Exercise for Gut Health: The Link Between Exercise and Digestive Disorders

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Got Gut Problems? The Surprising Link to a Healthy Gut (Hint: Its NOT Food)

Discover how exercise enhances digestion, eases IBS symptoms, and boosts gut wellness in this science-backed article.

The effects of strength training on gut health

Did you know, your gut is home to over 1,000 bacterial species and is collectively referred to as the “gut microbiome?”

Interestingly, when we are babies, our microbiome is quite similar to our mother's, but it matures and becomes similar to that of an adult by the time we turn one year old.

As we grow and transition from liquid to solid foods, our gut starts to welcome a diverse array of microorganisms. And get this – various factors like age, genetics, environment, antibiotics, and life events can all have a hand in shaping our gut's ecosystem.

In this article, we dive into understanding what influences the gut microbiome and how exercise in particular can be a holistic approach to healing the gut.

Diversify Your Gut

Imagine your gut microbiome as a team of superheroes that take care of different jobs: maintaining balance in your body, supporting your immune system, and helping various signals flow smoothly.

To keep these superheroes performing at their best, it's crucial to maintain a diverse and healthy group of gut bacteria. This not only leads to better health and a stronger immune system but also keeps inflammation at bay.

On the flip side, if the diversity in your gut decreases, you might be at a higher risk for conditions like type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, and inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

But don't worry, you have the power to boost your gut's diversity! Simple habits like staying active and eating a diet rich in fiber and whole foods can make your gut population thrive.

The gut brain axis

The Gut-Brain Highway

The Gut-Brain Axis (GBA) is a communication network including the gut, central nervous system, autonomic nervous system, enteric nervous system, brain, spinal cord, and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis.

Another way to think of GBA is like a two-way highway. It lets your gut and brain chat with each other, exchanging signals through nerves, hormones, and even metabolism.

Through this bidirectional communication chain, the gut can influence and be influenced neurally, hormonally, and metabolically. So, when you're stressed, it can throw this communication out of balance, leading to a disrupted gut.

Many microorganisms in the Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT) are located in the large bowel where they play an essential role in digestion. The gut microbiota ferments nondigestible food components whose nutrients would be inaccessible otherwise.

Essentially they work their magic on foods that your body can't fully digest, producing helpful substances like short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs then travel through your bloodstream, giving energy to other organs and even influencing your immune system.

More Bacteria in the Gut is… Better?

Though the gut is highly individual, generally a reduction or elimination of gut bacteria is associated with negative health effects, while an increase in diverse bacteria improves metabolic functions and immunity.

Exercise plays a positive role in energy homeostasis and regulation. In other words, exercise can be a trusty sidekick in bettering your gut health.

Even simple activities like walking can speed up digestion, improve blood flow to your gut, and keep nasty issues like bloating and constipation at bay.

Exercise has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, diverticulosis, and IBD. Endurance exercise, however, has a converse effect due to a reduction of blood flow. Short, intentional exercise sessions show to be superior for promoting a healthy gut.

Woman taking a walk

Bueller, Bueller… Butyrate!

Here's where things get even cooler. Researchers found that people who stay fit have more diverse gut bacteria, and they produce something called butyrate.

Butyrate is like a special fuel for your gut cells, reducing inflammation and stress. This not only keeps your gut happy but also reaches your brain, potentially slowing down degenerative diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, stroke and autism.

So, by keeping your body moving, you're giving your gut and brain a serious boost.

All in all, exercise can help improve your gut. Walking, biking and other core focused exercises like yoga, crunches, and pelvic floor activation will help aid in digestion.

These low intensity exercises paired with strength training lead to improved lean muscle mass, lower inflammation and better metabolic health. Daily exercise recommendations as dictated by WHO are 3 days of 30 minutes of exercise per week.

Feed Your Gut with Goodness

Butyrate isn't the only heavy hitter here. Certain foods can also support its production. Ever heard of resistant starches?

These are foods like less-than-ripe bananas, plantains, and cooked-then-cooled potatoes or rice. They help make butyrate in your gut.

Other foods like dairy, legumes, rolled oats, whole grains, and fibrous fruits and veggies (like apple peels, broccoli, and asparagus) also play a part.

And let's not forget fiber! Women should aim for around 20-25g of fiber a day, while men should shoot for 30-38g.

A person working hard on the leg press machine

Your Gut Loves a Good Workout

Age can also play a factor in gut biodiversity. A study on athletes of all ages showed lower inflammatory markers. This proves that exercise can lead to less inflammation and improved metabolic markers regardless of age.

A study from the Canadian Journal of Cardiology from 2014 suggests “ the combination of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and high quality diet could prevent cardiovascular disease development”.

Another study focusing specifically on obese subjects shows that diet and exercise showed improvement in sleep quality in addition to the microbiome composition.

Exercise for a Healthier Gut (inside and out!)

Though we are still discovering much about the gut microbiome, we can see that there is a direct correlation between intentional exercise, diet, and a diverse gut microbiome.

A healthy gut reduces inflammation, obesity related diabetes, cardiovascular disease and IBD. If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to gather a support system.

Meeting with a gastroenterologist and/or a nutrition coach can help you build a game plan to manage your symptoms.

This is where The Perfect Workout can help.

Our dedicated team of certified nutrition coaches can help you build healthy lifestyle habits to manage and improve your symptoms.

Email [email protected] to get started.

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How to Keep Glucose Levels Stable & Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes

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7 Expert-Backed Tips for Keeping Your Blood Sugar Stable:
A Comprehensive Guide to Preventing Spikes and Maintaining Control

Discover expert-backed tips for managing your glucose levels and maintaining metabolic health. Learn how to prevent blood sugar spikes and feel your best!

Blood sugar stability is essential for maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases like diabetes. With so many factors affecting blood sugar levels, it can be challenging to keep them under control.

That’s why we've compiled 7 expert-backed tips to help you maintain stable blood sugar levels. Whether you have diabetes or are looking to prevent spikes, this comprehensive guide will provide you with practical and effective strategies to keep your blood sugar in check.

Let's dive in…

Jump to Topic:
What is Glucose?
Why Should I Manage My Glucose?
Indicators of Blood Sugar Spikes
7 Ways Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes

What Is Glucose?

Glucose, or blood sugar, is our body’s primary source of energy. We get glucose from carbohydrates, which we commonly refer to as starchy foods (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread) and sugary foods (fruits, cakes, cookies).

Eating the right carbohydrates can allow for a steady flow of energy, while others can lead to energy spikes and subsequent drops.

Glucose in the blood stream

Why Should I Manage My Glucose?

You might be wondering why anyone would need to “manage” their blood sugar. When glucose levels are consistently too high or too low, it can lead to a range of health issues.

If glucose levels are consistently high, it can damage blood vessels, nerves, and organs over time. This can lead to a variety of health complications such as heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and blindness. In addition, high glucose levels can weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections.

On the other hand, if glucose levels are consistently too low, it can cause symptoms such as shakiness, confusion, and even seizures. In severe cases, low glucose levels can lead to coma or even death.

In a pre-Covid study from NIH, results showed that only 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy. Factors contributing to metabolic health are:

  • blood sugar (70mg/dL-100mg/dL)
  • waist circumference (>40” for men, >34.6 for women)
  • blood pressure (≤120/80)
  • cholesterol (low as possible LDL, HDL ≥40md/dL men and ≥50md/dL women)
  • triglycerides (<150 mg/dL)

We often think of glucose management as something only diabetics need to worry about, but as we can see, managing blood sugar levels is a prime indicator of health, so it is imperative for non diabetics as well. New studies are even referring to Alzheimers as Type 3 diabetes.

Indicators of Blood Sugar Spikes

There are some common indicators that will let you know you are suffering from blood sugar spikes and drops. Knowing these can help us make better diet and lifestyle choices to help manage our glucose levels.

  • Do you find yourself constantly hungry?
  • Do you suffer from lots of cravings?
  • Do you find yourself chronically tired or suffer from low energy?
  • Do you wake up in the middle of the night with a pounding heart?
  • Do you suffer from colds and infections frequently?
  • Have you been diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease?

If you answer yes to any of these, you may be experiencing blood sugar spikes. Keep reading for tips you can incorporate to self-manage your glucose levels!

Strength Training to help maintain healthy glucose levels

How to Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes and keep blood sugar stable:

1. Eating foods in the right order

Eating foods in the right order can reduce your glucose spike by 73%, regardless of whether you have diabetes or not. A Study was performed on a group of diabetics where one group ate as normal, and the other followed the directed order.

Veggies/Fiber →Protein →Fat→Starches →Sweets

Both groups ate the same exact food and number of calories. The group who followed the order saw a significant reduction in their A1c levels, where the other group saw no improvement.

2. Start your day with a savory breakfast

Avoid eating cereal, muffins and pancakes to start your day. These starchy and sugary foods can spike your glucose quickly up to >140mg/dL, which is the cutoff for diabetes. Starting your day protein eggs, greek yogurt, smoked salmon or a protein shake can help give you a much more steady flow of energy that will even reduce cravings through the day.

3. Choose dessert vs. a sweet snack

This goes hand in hand with Tip #1. Enjoying your dessert “attached” to a meal will produce a much lower glucose spike than a separate sugary snack alone.

4. Vinegar before you eat

Mix 1 tbsp of vinegar into a tall glass of water and drink before you eat your meal. You may want to experiment and work your way up to 1 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar is the most popular for this hack, but all vinegars work well. This can help reduce the post meal glucose spike by 8-30%.

5. Incorporate a 10 minute post-meal walk

Each body movement requires energy. More energy expenditure, means more glucose needs. Taking a post-meal walk, directs the glucose to our muscles leading to flatten the glucose spike.

6. If you want to snack, opt for savory

This speaks to Tip 3 and the upcoming Tip 7. Lots of blood sugar spikes throughout the day can affect our mood and mental health. Opting for a savory snack over a sweet snack reduces the glucose impact

7. Dress your carbs

Pairing a carb with a fat, protein, or fiber will significantly reduce the glucose spike. Think whole wheat toast with avocado, apple with peanut butter, grapes with cheese.


Glucose, also known as blood sugar, is the primary source of energy for our bodies, and managing our glucose levels is crucial for overall health. While many people associate glucose management with diabetes, it is a vital indicator of metabolic health for everyone.

Symptoms of blood sugar spikes include hunger, cravings, fatigue, and frequent colds or infections. However, there are several expert-backed tips for preventing spikes and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. These include eating foods in the right order, starting the day with a savory breakfast, choosing dessert over a sweet snack, taking a post-meal walk, and dressing your carbs.

By following these tips, you can keep your glucose levels under control and enjoy improved overall health.

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