Now you can add another benefit of exercise to your list of motivators: It has been shown to alter the number of microbes in your gut, increasing the ones that enhance metabolism and reduce inflammation, while decreasing those that are pro-inflammatory.
The gut microbiome is still largely a mystery in how it affects all aspects of our health. But more research is being done, and continuously proving that exercise is a positive factor in improving bacterial composition, thereby improving overall health. The key is to be consistent. Evidence shows that 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Crazy! When study subjects who were previously sedentary started exercising, the beneficial bacteria quickly increased in their guts, while the pro-inflammatory bacteria decreased. But six weeks of being sedentary, after three weeks of consistent exercise, showed the bacterial make-up returning to pre-intervention levels. The subjects who experienced the greatest benefits, were those who were lean at the start of the study, as opposed to those who were obese.
While much more research is necessary to understand the gut microbiome (and its effect on health) needs to be done, one thing has been consistently proven: exercise has a positive effect, increasing bacteria that reduce inflammatory markers, including those that improve insulin sensitivity, as well as enhancing metabolism and decreasing pro-inflammatory bacteria.
The message is clear: Get up and move (and whatever that movement is, make sure it’s something you enjoy and will stick with!)