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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).

Fun Facts

  • 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:

Bloating

Constipation

Gas

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).

References

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

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