We know that exercise is good for us - it boosts our mood, our energy levels, lowers risk of disease, promotes well being in mind + body(1) - but we are only just discovering that it can also have a positive effect on our health at the microscopic level, influencing our gut microbiome. The level of a person's physical activity may affect the bacterial diversity in their gut, thus positively influencing our health(2).
Digestive health is also vital to our well being. As well as eliminating toxins, absorbing the energy and other key nutrients our bodies need to function by breaking down food, about 70% of the body’s immune system resides in the gut. If compromised, we are left vulnerable to infection and an increased risk of a wide range of conditions(3).
“For one thing (exercise) helps stimulate the gut and increases intestinal activity. Physical activity increases blood flow to the muscles in the digestive system, which massage our food along the digestive tract – a process known as peristalsis – causing them to work more quickly and effectively.”
Since gut motility disorders are often the root cause of chronic gut conditions, and indeed general ill health in the body(3), when digestive health is compromised exercise becomes even more vital and is a significant part of the healing process. It is therefore important that you exercise consistently throughout your SIBO/AI treatment, forming good habits which you enjoy and undertake regularly, and in so doing, decrease the risk of relapse.
The time of day you choose to exercise provides different motor, physiological, and neurobiological benefits. This study discusses how exercising at different times effects aerobic and anaerobic performance and hormone adaptation through time-of-day exercise studies. We should be aiming to be as active as possible daily, which can be a challenge with our office-based sedentary lifestyles. But there are numerous opportunities for moderate to intense exercise throughout the day. Here are some guidelines -
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends:
The UK’s NHS recommends adults aged between 19-64 try to be as active as possible on a daily basis, as well as following the below guidelines:
““Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out — especially when we are already feeling fatigued,”...” “However, we have shown that regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy — particularly in sedentary individuals.”” - Dr Puetz(4)
Fatigue is a chronic issue for SIBO and AI-sufferers. Certain supplements and health-hacks can help improve energy levels but only to an extent. Exercise - even gentle exercise - is crucial for boosting energy levels, which may seem counterintuitive to those struggling with fatigue. Exactly how this works isn’t yet understood but it’s believed that exercise improves energy levels and fatigue by acting on the central nervous system(4).
We both love Yoga but Gina is more of a Yogini, having practiced for many years now. There are many different kinds of yoga practices but they all have an impressively long list of health benefits. The main benefits include(5) -
“Aside from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. “Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate,” says Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.”(6)
One of the best ways to practice is also free! - following a Youtube guide in the comfort of your own home is something everyone can do and we regularly follow routines of popular Youtube Yogini Yoga With Adriene. She has over 5 million subscribers and has Yoga videos designed for every time of day and occasion, including for beginners, for pain, morning routines and for rainy days. Here are some of our favourites -
Adriene helpfully has a whole playlist dedicated to Yoga for Your Guts!
In this article (also referenced above) health and fitness expert Sarah Kemp offers up some useful tips for keeping your gut functioning well, and suggests a special set of 3 moves (which are also Yoga positions) to help boost your digestive health.
Most of the info below was taken from this article.
1. Exercise Controls Our Weight. When it comes to exercise, consistency is key. Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. Any type of exercise will burn calories but the more active you are and the more intense the exercise, the more fat/calories will be burned.
2. Combats Health Conditions + Diseases. Being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol, and it decreases unhealthy triglycerides. Regular exercise helps prevent or manage many health problems and concerns, including:
It can also help improve cognitive function and helps lower the risk of death from all causes.
3. Improves Mood. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, that leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious(7).
4. Boosts Energy Levels. Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy and everything feels easier and less of a struggle!
5. Promotes Better Sleep. Similar to meditation, regular exercise/physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better quality sleep and deepen your sleep.
6. Exercise can be Fun, Enjoyable + Social! Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore - like back in school! There are so many different types to choose from and dancing - which is very social and fun - just happens to be one of the best forms of exercise there is (see more below). Exercise gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in a activities - like a walk in your local woods - that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting.
All physical activity and exercise can be hugely enjoyable and a bonding experience and a great way for you to feel better, more energised, improve your mental and physical health and well being and importantly - have fun!
Studies(8),(9) have shown that undertaking High Intensity Intermittent Exercise (HIIE) or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for a shorter duration of time than you would undertake moderate aerobic exercise such as jogging or swimming, provides far greater benefits. It is more convenient also, taking up far less time and so fits more easily into our busy schedules. This doesn’t need to involve a gym! I (Sophie) do Sprint Interval Training (SIT) regularly. I try to sprint everywhere - to work, to the bus stop, and I walk in between and once recovered (when I’ve caught my breath back!), I sprinting again. I also follow this HIIT workout on Youtube a couple of times a week which is great for building muscle mass and protecting the ligaments and muscles against the stress of HIIE/HIIT, which can cause strains if you’re body is not used to regular intensive aerobic exercise.
Dancing is not only tonnes of fun and a social activity which releases endorphins, it’s one of the best forms of exercise you can do as it is a whole body cardio work-out, which strengthens muscles, including the brain, improving cognitive functioning, balance and coordination(10). A study has shown that it also increases the connective tissue or “white matter” in the brain which degrades as we age, thus protecting the brain from aging and improving memory(11). The same article lists other surprising benefits of dancing, including it’s impressive psychological benefits; “Touch is the first sense that emerges during infancy, and the more experts examine the benefits of...human-to-human physical contact, the more they find that touching improves well-being and reduces stress and anxiety. Basically, dancing with someone else is like exercise and a hug rolled together.”
And you don’t need to pay for a dance class - you can dance anywhere, for free, including in the comfort of your own home. Just put on your favourite dance tracks/playlist and dance like no one’s watching! Or follow a dance routine/workout on Youtube.