How does exercise impact our digestive health? And why? Posted on October 24, 2016 by , 0 comments

When it comes to determining if exercise helps promote or harm digestive health, there seem to be conflicting answers. We have known since childhood that swimming is prohibited after eating a meal, but other practitioners will tell you that regular exercise will support the digestive process. Why is this? How can one form of exercise help our digestion while the other may harm us?

The right exercise and the right time:

Exercise can be the answer for plenty of physical challenges. When it comes to digestion, it is also true. That is because exercise helps to increase blood flow to the digestive system, thereby supporting the processes of digestion, absorption, and elimination. But this is only if we haven’t recently eat a large meal. The reason for this is that when we exercise, our body sends blood to the muscles to fuel their energy needs. This leaves less blood available for other bodily systems, including the organs that are involved with digestion. This can lead to cramping and other symptoms. 

Best exercises to add to your life to aid in digestion:

  • Cycling: Doing a moderate exercise routine on a bike can help support people who may have issues with acid production in the stomach. It is low-impact and can help promote regular deeps breaths, which can increase blood flow to the digestive track while at the same time helping to promote a healthy weight.
  • Yoga: Speaking of deep breathing, yoga can help support the digestive system though gentle movements that may help mitigate gas production and elimination. Yoga also helps reduce stress and anxiety, which may impact digestive health. Low-impact yoga and stretches that promote twisting, may help support blood flow to the digestive organs as well. 
  • Swimming: Yes, swimming really is a great low-impact exercise that can help boost digestion. Just don’t do it on a full stomach. 

But, you may want to avoid:

  • Running: Unlike yoga and riding a bike, running can negatively impact digestive health. While research is still being conducted into why exactly running can cause digestive problems, the assumed culprit is the colon and how it responds to running. Some runners have even reported bouts of diarrhea in addition to cramping.


Have you found that exercise has helped support your digestive health? Tell us in the comments below!