Exercise shapes our gut health, study finds

4 minutes, 3 seconds Read

In a recent study published in the journal Dr eBiomedicineA team of scientists investigated the relationship between physical activity levels and gut microbiota using accelerometer-based assessments of sedentary, moderate and vigorous physical activity levels.

Study: Accelerometer-based physical activity associated with gut microbiota in 8416 subjects in SCAPIS.  Image credit: Zhanna Mendel / ShutterstockStudy: Accelerometer-based physical activity is associated with gut microbiota in 8416 individuals from SCAPIS.. Image credit: Zhanna Mendel / Shutterstock


A growing body of evidence shows that optimal levels of physical activity reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental health conditions such as depression. Furthermore, habits involving sedentary or lying down activities increase the risk of cardiovascular death and type 2 diabetes, and these risks can be reduced by high-intensity exercise. Recent studies have shown that the positive effects of exercise on health may be mediated by changes in the gut microbiome.

Considerable research also indicates that the gut microbiome plays an important role in the development of various diseases and mental health problems. In addition to interactions with the host in the gastrointestinal tract, the gut microbiota produces neurotransmitters that are thought to influence the immune system, central nervous system, and brain homeostasis through various neuronal pathways and the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Changes resulting from physical activity and circulation, enterohepatic movement of bile acids, intestinal permeability and intestinal immunity can affect the gut microbiota.

About the study

In the current study, researchers used data from a cardiopulmonary bioimage study in Sweden to determine whether sedentary, moderate, and vigorous levels of physical activity are associated with changes in the gut microbiome. Although several previous studies have examined this association, most of them used self-reported levels of physical activity, which is subject to bias. Furthermore, the authors believe that the taxonomic resolution of gut microbes was limited in this study.

This study used data from hip-worn accelerometers to obtain more reliable and accurate measurements of physical activity levels. Additionally, the use of deep shotgun metagenomics is thought to provide high-resolution taxonomic information about the gut microbial community.

Study participants are required to answer a detailed questionnaire about health and medical history, diet and lifestyle habits. They performed a series of physical and clinical tests such as computed tomography (CT) of the lungs, coronary arteries, and abdomen. Also provided are stool samples used for gut microbiome analysis. All participants wore an accelerometer on the hip for one week, except during water-based activities or sleeping.

Data from the accelerometer were converted to counts per minute, which were used to define sedentary, low, moderate, and vigorous physical activity levels according to validated cut-offs from previous studies. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) extraction was performed for all stool samples, and the extracted DNA was used to identify metagenomic species.

Various indices of species diversity, such as inverse Simpson index, Shannon diversity index, and species richness, were calculated to determine alpha diversity. Additionally, variation in microbial composition between samples was determined by calculating beta diversity.


The results showed that the association between sedentary habits or very low levels of physical activity and the abundance of different gut microbial species was opposite to the association between moderate or vigorous physical activity levels and the abundance of gut microbiome species.

its abundance Escherichia coli Higher levels were found to be associated with steady physical activity levels, while moderate physical activity levels were associated with lower abundance. E. coli. Abundance of butyrate producing bacteria such as Roseburia Genus, and Faecalibacterium prasnitzii It was higher in individuals with moderate and vigorous physical activity levels.

Furthermore, differences in species abundance were also observed, viz Prevotella capri, Between individuals with moderate physical activity levels and vigorous physical activity groups. its abundance P. copri The association was higher with moderate exercise, but showed no association with vigorous exercise. P. copri abundance

The functional potential of the gut microbiome has also been shown to correlate with different physical activity levels. Moderate levels of physical activity have been found to be associated with higher acetate and butyrate synthesis. Vigorous exercise was found to be associated with higher propionate synthesis, and sedentary activity levels were associated with a lower capacity for carbohydrate degradation by gut microbiota.


Overall, the results suggested that physical activity levels were strongly associated with the abundance of specific gut microbes. Furthermore, the diversity and abundance of the gut microbiota, and subsequently its functional potential, varies with different levels of physical activity. Sedentary habits and high levels of physical activity demonstrate a reciprocal relationship with the abundance and diversity of the gut microbiome.

Journal Reference:

  • Baldanzi, G., Sayols-Baixeras, S., Ekblom-Bak, E., Ekblom, Ö., Dekkers, KF, Hammar, U., Nguyen, D., Ahmad, S., Ericson, U., Arvidsson, D., Börjesson, M., Johanson, PJ, Gustav, SJ, Bergström, G., Lind, L., Engström, G., Ärnlöv, J., Kennedy, B., Orho-Melander, M., & Fall , T. (2024). Accelerometer-based physical activity is associated with gut microbiota in 8416 individuals from SCAPIS. eBiomedicine100. DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2024.104989, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(24)00024-0/fulltext

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *