Can a good hill climb result in healthier digestion? Maybe! Recent research shows a relationship between the gut microbiome, metabolism and the immune system.
A healthy gut promotes better nutrient absorption, a more effective metabolism and a stronger immune system, among other benefits. Recently, studies have found an additional relationship between physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness and positive changes in the gut microbiota. Investigators from multiple universities in Italy conducted a 9-week study to determine whether high-intensity interval indoor cycling training over an extended time would improve the gut microbiome.
Researchers recruited 18 healthy, sedentary, male college students. There was not a control group. All subjects participated in the same training and were assessed at the beginning and ending of the 9-week, high-intensity interval cycling program. There were three sessions per week that increased in frequency and duration as participants improved.
Data analyses showed that subjects experienced changes in the abundance and community structure of the gut microbiota. This improved abundance of “good” bacteria and reduced inflammatory bacteria represents a positive change in overall gut health. More research is recommended to better understand how and why microbes play a role in athletic performance and the relationship of physical activity to improvements in gut health.
The research is reported in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2021; 18 ).