Exercise Affects the Gut Microbiome | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

Exercise Affects the Gut Microbiome

Exercise Affects the Gut Microbiome - theManualTherapist.com

By Dr. Sean M. Wells, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, CNPT, Cert-DN

At Nutritional PT we talk a lot about how food can impact the gut microbiome. But as Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT), did you know that exercise has been shown to influence the gut microbiome? Studies have found that regular physical activity can increase the diversity and abundance of beneficial gut microbes, such as Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia, while reducing the abundance of potentially harmful microbes, such as Clostridium and Bacteroides.

New Research

A recent study demonstrated that alpha diversity increased among normal-weight and overweight adult individuals with moderate increases in physical exercise durations. Compositional alterations were primarily observed among normal-weight individuals. These findings indicate that even small increases in PA duration by overweight individuals can improve beneficial microbe abundance and diversity in the intestines, which has huge implications for PTs working with overweight adults.

Alpha diversity refers to the diversity of microbial species within a single sample or individual. It is a measure of how many different types of microbes are present within a given community and how evenly they are distributed. Alpha diversity can be quantified using various indices, such as the Shannon index, which takes into account both the number of species and their relative abundance.

Compositional alteration, on the other hand, refers to changes in the overall composition of the gut microbiome between different individuals or groups of individuals. This can be assessed by comparing the relative abundance of different microbial taxa across samples or groups. Compositional alterations can be due to various factors, such as changes in diet, medication use, or disease status.


In summary, alpha diversity measures the diversity of microbial species within a single sample, while compositional alteration measures the overall changes in microbial composition across different samples or groups. Both measures can provide important insights into the health and function of the gut microbiome, as seen in the above study.

The exact mechanisms by which exercise influences the gut microbiome are not yet fully understood, but it is believed that exercise-induced changes in the gut environment, such as changes in pH and oxygen levels, may play a role. Additionally, exercise has been shown to reduce inflammation, which may also have a positive effect on the gut microbiome.

It is important to note that the specific effects of exercise on the gut microbiome may vary depending on factors such as the type, intensity, and duration of exercise, as well as an individual's diet and overall health status.

If you like what you see here then know there is more in our 3 board-approved continuing education courses on Nutrition specific for Physical Therapists. Enroll today in our new bundled course offering and save 20%, a value of $60!

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