Gut Reset Day 4: Movements to Optimize Gut Health
Have you ever had to hustle to the bathroom during or after certain exercises? That’s because certain types of exercise increase blood flow and stimulate the bowels. While other factors contribute to a healthy digestive system (think about what you learned earlier in this gut reset!), moving for 30 minutes five times a week will improve both your gut and overall health.In fact, physical activity can actually increase the diversity of bacteria in your gut – a sign of good gut health.
Here are a few exercises that best support digestion:
YOGA ( my personal favorite)
Some yoga poses, like seated spinal twist, cat-cow, and child’s pose, increase blood flow to the digestive system. Twists (one of the best poses for overall digestion!) activate your abdominal muscles and liver, supporting the digestive process. Cat-cow focuses on stretching and lengthening your abs, while child’s pose is all about breathing. Taking long deep breaths in any yoga position is important to stimulate your digestive track, so focus on taking your time!
Tai chi, an ancient Chinese practice, is a low-impact activity that focuses on stretching and breathing. It targets your whole body with body-weight movements, thus improving flexibility and balance. Tai chi also increases the flow of oxygen in your blood and enhances circulation, which are essential to optimal gut function. It’s beneficial to incorporate activities like tai chi on days when you’re not doing something higher intensity. Having a balance of both low and high impact movements will ensure your body’s getting enough exercise, but also enough rest to reboot for the days ahead.
Whether it’s walking, running, or cycling, cardiovascular exercises get your blood flowing to promote regularity. Even jumping rope for 10 minutes a day can do wonders for your digestive tract! However, meal timing also plays a role in when it’s best to take part in aerobic exercises. If you’ve just finished a heavier meal, go for a brisk walk to jump-start your digestive system and improve your metabolism. However, you should wait a minimum of one hour before participating in more rigorous exercises, like running or jumping. These exercises might cause an upset stomach, cramping, or other forms of discomfort, so stick to low-impact activities shortly after finishing a meal.
It’s important to stay hydrated before, during, and after exercising because fluids help move things around!
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE FOR YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Relieves stress, which has a negative impact on your gut and overall health.
Enhances gut flora by increasing the amount of “good” bacteria you have in your gut, which protects your immune system and helps keep you healthy!
Maintains a healthy weight, which helps you feel and look your best!
Reduces inflammation, constipation, and bloating, which are often signs of an unhealthy gut and can potentially lead to more serious,long-term issues.
Protein after a workout helps build muscle and aid post-workout repair.
PRE-EXERCISE EATING TIPS
It’s ideal to eat a full meal about three hours before exercising.
Eat foods you can digest easily, including carbohydrates, like bananas, whole grain
toasts, or oats.
Limit proteins or high-fiber foods, which digest more slowly (but you can consume these post-workout)!
Drink enough water to support your activity and stay hydrated. The amount of water your body needs depends on the activity you’re doing and how much you’re sweating!
*For runners: If you’re a frequent runner or have ever trained for a race, it’s likely you’ve experienced an upset stomach or loose bowel movement. Often, it’s due to the pressure you’re putting on your body combined with a decrease in blood flow to your intestines. What you eat and drink play a major role here, so it’s important to up your water intake while limiting dairy, sugar, and other processed foods. Not eating beforehand might leave you feeling tired and weak, so be sure to choose something that fuels you well.
What is your favorite form of exercise?