Good for the Gut: New Study Finds Exercise Alters Our Microbiome

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Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found that working out alters our microbiome, the universe of bacteria living inside every human that’s believed to influence everything from metabolism to mood.

The New York Times broke down the scientists’ findings, which hints that exercise is able effect a person’s microbes, which in turn could lead to better metabolism and overall health.

A group of 32 men and women who didn’t exercise regularly participated in the study. Half of the volunteers were overweight and the other half were not. Everyone was tasked with keeping their diet the same, and everyone engaged in monitored exercise like running and cycling over a period of six weeks. After getting their microbiomes tested, the study participants stopped exercising for six weeks and got tested again.

Researchers looked at everyone’s microbes to see what changes had occurred. Some people had more microbes, some had less. The genes in some people’s microbes had also changed. Most everyone had different results, but the researchers did notice an uptick in microbes that reduce inflammation in the gut. The people who started the study not overweight saw this change the most.

While the changes recorded were small, they could lead to bigger findings between exercise and the makeup of microbiomes. More studies just need to happen, the researchers said.

Still good enough reason to brave those new year crowds at the gym and give your gut bugs a work out.