Why exercise stimulates digestion – but can also harm it

Many people know that exercise is good for your health and stimulates digestion. What is less well known is that too much or incorrect exercise can actually damage digestion. This article will tell you when exercise is good and when it can become a problem.

In this article you will learn:

  • Why exercise can stimulate digestion.
  • How exercise can help with constipation.
  • What other advantages sport has.
  • Why intense exercise can damage digestion.
  • Why runners are particularly affected by digestive problems.

Exercise and digestion go hand in hand, this is nothing new. Exercise or intense exercise has a direct effect on the digestive system . Not only athletes should stay physically fit – everyone should exercise a little and thus do something good for their body. The increase in feelings of happiness (endorphins) is often attributed to sport. You just feel better.

At any age, regular exercise has been shown to have benefits . It leads to an improvement in the cardiovascular system, you can sleep better, the lung function is strengthened and even stress can be reduced in this way.

Regular exercise also helps to strengthen bones and build coordination, balance, and flexibility. Staying physically active can lead to improvements in flexibility and health as the body has to adapt during the exercise process in order to become fitter and more efficient.

Regular exercise not only makes you healthy, but also happier.

However, exercise and intensive training can also have a negative impact on the body. These include injuries, extreme fatigue, and dehydration, to name a few. What is often overlooked, however, is that digestion plays an equally important role. Like everywhere else, there are some advantages and disadvantages associated with doing sports .

Exercise and digestion: why exercise is good for the intestines

Our body needs nutrients for energy production, growth and cell repair. We get these nutrients from food. Digestion ensures that we can get the nutrients from our food at all.

Everything we eat or drink needs to be converted into smaller nutrient molecules before the blood can take them in and carry them to cells throughout the body. The nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats from food and beverages are broken down in order to be converted into their own body cells and structures.

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We have to get minerals, some amino acids, certain fatty acids and micronutrients such as vitamins from food because we can not produce them ourselves . In order for the food to be digested and used, it has to be transported through the digestive system from the mouth to the rectum.

The gastrointestinal system consists of the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. It is used to digest food, absorb nutrients and move waste out of the body.

Exercise and exercise have many benefits , such as improved blood sugar control, better sleep habits, stronger bones, and improved bowel movement that helps prevent constipation. Movement causes increased energy consumption.

Sugar and fats are broken down more and the energy they contain is not stored in love handles. People with metabolic disorders or at risk for them, for example diabetes or fatty liver, therefore benefit in particular from regular exercise and sport.

At the same time, physical exercise also promotes the movement of the smooth muscles of our digestive tract.

Exercise as a miracle cure for constipation

Physical activity helps maintain bowel activity. Exercise is therefore ideal for people with constipation problems. The latter is in fact favored by a predominantly sedentary lifestyle. This means that a person who is not physically active is more likely to be constipated than an active person. Especially when we work a lot sitting and in the home office, sport is an important factor in balance .

Those who work in the home office run the risk of too little exercise.

When movement is not possible, constipation often results. People with severe mobility restrictions such as B. Wheelchair users or bedridden patients often with constipation .

Those who do sport also indirectly increase the oxygen supply to the body . At the same time, stress is relieved and stress can have extremely negative effects on the digestive system. An active lifestyle can prevent this.

Other positive aspects of the sport

According to a 2010 US study, adults who exercise regularly are less likely to experience colds in winter. This 1,000-person study found that exercise nearly cut your chances of contracting the cold virus in half. If infections did occur, they were less severe in the group that did exercise regularly. Feeling fit and being active is supposed to reduce the risk of a cold by 50 percent.

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One positive aspect of exercise can be an improvement in the immune system . There is some evidence that an active lifestyle reduces the risk of developing a range of communicable diseases (bacteria and viruses). The risk of cardiovascular and other chronic inflammatory diseases also decreases if you exercise regularly.

Diarrhea & Co .: Why can intense exercise damage digestion?

Although the positive effects of exercise on digestion are numerous, vigorous physical activity can lead to adverse health effects .

Exercise, especially intense workouts, can cause abdominal muscle strain. This can put pressure on the entire digestive tract from the stomach to the small intestine to the large intestine. Possible symptoms that result from this include nausea, diarrhea, acid reflux, constipation, and even cramps.

Patients with previous illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can react particularly sensitively as their symptoms can be intensified.

With increasing training intensity and duration there are even indications of an increase in intestinal injuries , as well as impairment of gastric emptying or a slowing down of the small intestine transit.

Exercise stimulates digestion, but if you overdo it with exercise, you are more likely to damage your intestines.

Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and (blood) diarrhea are often caused by ischemia (insufficient blood flow) in the digestive organs. Anything that restricts sweating, such as a humid environment or dehydration of the body, carries a risk of overheating.

Ischemic complications arise when the blood primarily supplies the muscles, lungs, heart, and brain. As a result, the amount of blood in the digestive tract is reduced by up to 80 percent. Intensive physical exertion therefore leads to a lack of oxygen in the walls of the gastrointestinal tract.

Since the blood supply to the mucous membranes is also reduced, our digestion is also impaired. It either comes to a standstill, whereby the half-digested food can form substances harmful to us. The stomach tenses up , hurts and you feel bloated. But there is also the possibility of the other extreme: The bowel empties very quickly and convulsively, resulting in a sudden urge to defecate and severe diarrhea .

Runners are more likely to suffer from diarrhea and gas than average. This may be due to the fact that the hard knocks on the floor shake the intestinal tract, which then reacts “nervously” with accelerated bowel evacuation.

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Runners are often affected

In a survey of over 100 runners, it was found that the majority suffered from nervous diarrhea . However, if they did not exercise, the bowel function was rather irregular. Exercise-related gastrointestinal symptoms such as transient abdominal pain, heartburn, and acid reflux and vomiting are equally common issues.

Despite many findings from studies, the connection between exercise and digestive disorders is not yet fully understood . It may be related to too much exercise and also the wrong pre-exercise foods. If you have this problem yourself, you should always try to drink enough and watch carefully under what circumstances these problems arise. It should come as no surprise, however, that heavy meals immediately before exercise do not exactly improve physical performance.

Why exercise stimulates digestion, but can also harm it

Exercise is healthy and has positive health effects for most people . However, it can also have a negative impact, especially if over-exercised. Exercising too much or incorrectly can have a negative impact on digestion. Runners are particularly hard hit. People who already suffer from previous illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract should also consider this in their training program.

Many training programs require it, but often little attention is paid to it: a visit to the doctor. If you have persistent symptoms of a gastrointestinal disorder and still want to exercise, you should consult a doctor.

Getting started slowly with regular training is crucial. Performing at full performance from now on can have undesirable consequences for someone who is not already exercising regularly. Your body will thank you if you slowly increase your training and only then increase the training intensity or the scope of the training when it feels good.

healthy, high-fiber diet is just as important. If you want to be active in sports and if you want to prevent digestive problems, then your diet should be adapted to the sports program as much as possible.

Dehydration is a leading cause of exercise-related gastrointestinal problems. So don’t forget to drink enough water.

In many diseases, exercise helps you feel good, or at least feel better. So if you are physically active several times a week, eat healthily and pay attention to warning signals from your body, sport is beneficial. It can not only contribute to physical, but also to mental well-being .

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