The Digestive System & Physical Activity
Edited by: Kristen Mangos
Digestive System Overview
The main function of the digestive system is to break down consumed food, eliminate toxins and absorb energy and other key nutrients our bodies require to function properly (AXA,2019).
Digestion time: begins when you've eaten and is not completed until the waste is excreted. This time period varies for many, but is usually slower in women than men (Waters, 2022).
Peristalsis: light forms movement such as stretching or shorts walks after a light meal/snack promotes movement of food along the digestive tract. Vigorous exercise should only done a minimum of one hour after consuming a big meal, to avoid discomfort or cramps (AXA, 2019). Physical activity affects the amount of bacteria in the gut. Fiber is your friend: increases antioxidants in the body and keeps the flow of digestion going (Waters, 2022).
70% of the body’s immune system resides in the gut
Our digestive health is central to our overall wellbeing as it can affect both physical and mental wellbeing.
The gut is home to over 100 trillion types friendly bacteria referred to as gut flora (Waters, 2022)
Physical Activity and Chronic Conditions of the Digestive System
Lack of physical activity can increase the likelihood of:
How can physical activity be preventative
Physical activity can help reduce the risk of gallstones developing
Physical activity also promotions the growth of gut flora and diversity of microbes (Waters, 2022)
Physical activity can help reduce the risk of heartburn, gas, stomach cramps, diverticular disease and colon cancer (Vivekanandarajah, 2022).
How can physical activity be treatment
Physical activity can help individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) as it helps to relieve stress (Vivekanandarajah, 2022).
Tips to increase Digestive Health
Fiber - increases antioxidants in the body and gut motility (Waters, 2022).
Walking - taking a brisk walk after a meal can help promote digestion.
Reduce stress- to help reduce stress which can affect the digestive process, take part in regular physical activity (Vivekanandarajah, 2022).
Yoga and breathing exercises are two of the best ways to promote optimal gut health (Waters, 2022).
Homepage. AXA Health. (2019, February 14). Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.axahealth.co.uk/health-information/gut-health/exercises-to-improve-digestion/#:~:text=Physical%20activity%20increases%20blood%20flow,of%20bacteria%20in%20the%20gut.
Vivekanandarajah, S. (2022, February 18). Regular exercise guarantees good digestion. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from http://sydneygastroenterologist.com.au/blog/regular-exercise-guarantees-good-digestion/
Waters, J. (2022). Why exercise is good for your digestive system. Healthspan. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.healthspan.co.uk/advice/why-exercise-is-good-for-your-digestive-system