Because it was so cold a few weekends ago, I didn’t want to leave the house. I wanted to stay in my hoodie and sweatpants ALL weekend and drink coffee, watch Private Practice on Netflix, and relax! I did that for most of the weekend until I realized that my dog Olaf hadn’t pooped! My dog is a 2 poop per day dog and he missed Saturday night and Sunday morning! He’s a scheduled kind of dog and loves his routine, which includes a long walk followed by a poop! So, too cold to go for a long walk = no poop for Olaf! I bundled up on Sunday and took him for a walk long enough to get him to poop! Yes, poop! Gross, dirty, stinky poop that no one wants to talk about but we all HAVE to do it! While Olaf is my dog who needs exercise to get him going, our systems benefit from regular exercise too – even your digestive system!
- Increased blood flow from exercise delivers more nutrients throughout your wholebody and your digestive system.
- Decreased symptoms in people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
- Vigorous exercise can help reduce reflux symptoms and heartburn.
- The motion of running and jogging may decrease pressure in your colon, cause food to move more quickly through the digestive tract, and stimulate a bowel movement.
- Moderate leisure-time physical activity can have a protective effect on the gastrointestinal lining in people with peptic ulcers.
- Decreased risk of colon cancer due to decreased transit time in the colon (you have bowel movements more regularly and faster).
- Increased metabolism means that food can move through the system much quicker, which then eases the load for the digestive system.
- Preliminary evidence suggests that exercise can alter the bacterial composition of the digestive system.
We usually don’t think about how many systems in our bodies are affected by exercise. We usually just think of the ones we can see and touch, i.e. muscles, bellies, body fat, etc. Your digestive health and quality of life are related to exercise. Next time you feel a little “stuck” (constipated!), go exercise. The result may not be immediate, but it will happen! You will feel better, inside and out!
BOTTOM LINE: Exercise helps keep your digestive system regular, clean, and healthy.