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Exercise and the Gut Microbiome

New research suggests that endurance exercise positively affects the gut microbiome, but only for lean individuals and only for as long as exercise continues. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted the study with 32 sedentary men and women—some lean, some obese. The purpose was to explore the impact of endurance exercise on the composition, functional capacity and metabolic output of gut microbiota. Investigators collected samples from the subjects before and after 6 weeks of exercise, then after 6 weeks of no exercise.

Data analysis showed positive changes in the gut microbiome from endurance exercise training, but only for lean individuals. These changes were mostly reversed after exercise training ended. The changes were unrelated to diet but correlated with changes in body composition, primarily increases in lean body mass, resulting from exercise. Study authors think that exercise induces beneficial shifts in the composition and metabolic capacity of the gut microbiota, but more research is needed.

The study appeared in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2018; doi: 10.1249/MSS.000000000001495).

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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