The secret to good health? It’s all in your gut! As icky as it might sound, our guts are filled with bacteria. Getting the make-up of this bacteria right is absolutely key to long-term health.
The good news (or should I say, gut news…) is that you can work to improve gut health simply by making lifestyle changes. I have done this myself and it led me to become a certified RYT-200 yoga teacher and a certified wellness counselor from Cornell University. So grab yourself a glass of kombucha and take a seat while I share the best exercises for gut health.
In general, most changes that are good for your general health are good for your gut. But exercise in particular has been shown to modify the bacterial makeup of your gut. One big reason is it increases the number of beneficial microbial species.
Additionally, exercise is great in general for maintaining a healthy weight, improving your stamina, and boosting mental health. But, which exercises are best for gut health in particular? Let’s take a look at the best exercises to practice if gut health is your number one priority.
The best exercise of all for your gut health is yoga. Now I know I sound biased (this is a yoga site after all), but there’s a reason I’m so passionate about spreading the news about yoga.
It’s not just an exercise that gets you super flexible. Yoga has many benefits. It can actually improve your health across the board, from reducing symptoms of anxiety to helping you sleep better.
When it comes to your gut, yoga takes center stage. This has proven by many studies, which directly call out yoga as a gut booster. For one, yoga can improve digestion, which is a great way to help your gut out.
Yoga has also been shown to alleviate symptoms associated with poor digestion, such as heartburn and acid reflux. Yoga is also a good stress manager. Excess stress is one of the biggest causes of poor gut health. Believe it or not, there’s a link between your brain and your gut that’s stronger than you realize.
Poor mental health influences your gut, and an unhappy mind can negatively impact your gut. That’s why exercise that’s shown to be calming (like yoga) is so beneficial for gut health. With just a few yoga sessions per week, you’ll start to see long term changes in your gut health for the better.
>>Check out my online Yoga Classes for Reducing Stress & Anxiety<<
Yoga is the best exercise for gut health, but it’s not the only one that helps. Here are some other workouts to try to get your gut in tip-top condition.
Walking is genuinely one of the most underrated exercises out there. Simply because it’s accessible to many, low impact, and doesn’t leave you super sweaty, people seriously underestimate the benefits that walking can yield for your health.
Walking’s ease is actually what makes it one of the most effective workouts. You can do it anywhere, it doesn’t require any equipment, and it’s accessible for almost every fitness level.
Walking helps your food digest properly, which is a big aid for your gut. Plus, the mental health benefits of getting outdoors in fresh air can’t be overstated.
2 – Swimming
Swimming is another underrated form of exercise. Just because you don’t feel sweaty in the water, doesn’t mean it’s not working.
Being in the water is relaxing for many, which helps the mood aspect of gut health. Swimming is also great at burning calories and building muscle, which contributes to overall good health. You don’t have to be an expert swimmer either. Just treading water in a pool for as long as possible will do a world of good for you.
Biking is known for being one of the best forms of cardio exercise you can do. It builds leg muscles, burns calories, and is one of the most effective methods of boosting your long term stamina. If you’re a cardio junkie looking to improve your gut health, pair regular cycling with some lower impact workouts for incredible results in your gut.
Pilates is similar to yoga, but with some key differences. At its core, Pilates is a low impact way of strengthening muscles, improving balance, and becoming more flexible. It’s also great for your gut.
Unlike some more hardcore types of exercise, Pilates doesn’t put your body through stress by raising your cortisol. Workouts like HIIT are excellent for weight loss and stamina, but it can put your body into a state of stress, leading to long-term inflammation.
Pilates helps to cultivate a calm mindset. This approach, coupled with the strengthening poses and exercises, is a huge plus for gut health.
Strength training using body weight, free weights, or machines boosts overall health and gut health in particular. Lifting weights improves muscle tone.
Over time it can enhance your metabolism too, which ensures that your food is digested as it should be. Increased metabolism also helps to reduce excess weight.
In turn your gut will benefit. The self-esteem benefits of getting stronger and toning up can also boost your mood. And if there’s one thing your gut loves, it’s a good mood!
While exercise is one of the most effective ways of improving your gut health, it’s certainly not the only one. There are plenty of other ways you can reap the rewards of better gut health, all with simple lifestyle changes. Let’s take a look.
- Eat a variety of foods. Ever heard the phrase “eat the rainbow”? It’s genuinely is good advice. The more plants you can incorporate into your diet, the better. Aim for around 20 different plants per week, this includes foods like vegetables, beans, seeds, and legumes. Put down the processed meat and reach for the chickpeas.
- Eat fermented foods. I know this sounds a little icky, but fermented food and drink are actually delicious and more common than you’d think! Foods like kimchi and drinks like kombucha are fermented, meaning they’re full of good bacteria that can positively impact your gut health. The next time you’re making your morning bagel, add some kimchi or sauerkraut and wash it down with kombucha or dairy-free kefir. Your gut will thank you for it.
- Reduce stress. Stress is all too often overlooked as negatively impacting our health. Steering clear of stress is one of the best ways to keep your gut ticking over as it should. Try stress-beating lifestyle changes such as yoga, meditation, and journaling to ensure your brain is sending all the right signals to your gut.
>>My 40-Day Mindful Elimination Diet program combines diet and yoga for permanent gut health improvements!<<
There are countless benefits to improving your gut health, from better mental health to fewer digestive issues. If improving your gut health is a top priority for you, then grab your yoga mat and sports gear because exercise is one of the best ways to do it.
You don’t have to come up with overly complicated workouts. A good yoga session or walk in the fresh air will do wonders for your gut health. Consistency is key. It doesn’t matter if you miss a few workouts here and there, long-term consistency is the plan here. The good news is that you’ll feel so great that after just a few weeks you won’t want to stop.
For more help getting started on a yoga workout plan, sign up for my FREE 10-day yoga challenge. Just fill in the form below.