Exercising and digestion are two separate bodily necessities. When you exercise, your body isn’t putting its energy into digestion. Actually what it does is slows down any digestion currently taking place so it can divert energy to energize your muscles and your lungs.
How Exercise Affects Your Digestion Video
Believe it or not, a good exercise program can go a long way toward improving your digestion. Some exercise is good for your digestion, while other types of exercise have the potential to make it even worse.
If you are going to use exercise to help improve your digestive health, be sure to see your doctor, and make sure your body is in good enough shape to engage in any strenuous exercises, especially, if you haven’t been exercising in a while.
Exercise is good for digestion because it maximizes the blood flow to the digestive tract. If you can maintain regular exercise, you can help your digestive tract work better. Engaging in a regular exercise program with improving the flow of food through your digestive tract, so you won’t suffer as much with abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, or constipation.
WARNING: eating a meal that’s high in fiber, protein or fat before engaging in a high-intensity workout, is just not a very good idea and most likely you will not end feeling well. Always keep in mind that exercise time should not coincide with digestion time.
Your digestive system is made from several components. It starts in the mouth, where amylase begins to digest the food as you chew. Then the food travels through the esophagus and into your stomach, where it is further digested.
Other parts of the digestive system play a role in digestion, including the liver, gallbladder, small intestine, pancreas, and large intestine. It takes about 24 to 72 hours to properly digest your food and exercise can help speed this process along.
Sometimes, when you exercise, you feel the need to defecate soon afterward. This is because exercise has increased the blood flow to the digestive tract and it speeds along the digestive process. Exercise not only improves the blood flow to the GI tract but it provides the GI tract with necessary oxygen it needs to digest your food. Your food digests faster and you need to use the restroom shortly thereafter.
Good Exercises For The Digestive System
Just about any exercise that helps your blood flow and maximizes the oxygen to your digestive system will be good for digestion; however, there are some foods that help the digestive system better than others do.
Here are some good ways to improve your digestive system through exercise:
Yoga. There are certain poses you can do during yoga that will maximize the blood flow to the GI tract and will aid in digestion. One that comes to mind is the “seated spinal twist.” To do this exercise, just sit on the mat with your leg straight in front of you.
Bend the other leg, crossing it over the extended leg. Then twist your body toward the bent leg with your foot flat on the floor.
Put your elbow on the outer aspect of the bent leg, twisting further if you are able. Breathe deeply for five breaths, staying with the pose. Switch to the other side so that your abdominal organs are maximally massaged and digestion will go better.
Cardiovascular exercise. This is also known as aerobic exercise and includes activities like cycling, running, and brisk walking. These exercises help to strengthen your abdominal muscles, massaging your intestines and helping in digestion. Aerobic exercises increase your respiratory rate and your heart rate so that your intestines will be bathed in oxygen and you will digest your food better.
Tai chi. Tai chi is a form of Chinese martial arts that has since become westernized as a form of exercise to maximize health. Not only are you more flexible after doing tai chi but your digestive system will work better. Tai chi massages the GI tract, relieving constipation and helping your digestive system work better.
Bicycle riding. This form of exercise has been known to improve heartburn. It increases your heart rate and respiratory rate so that you keep the food flowing in the direction it is supposed to instead of backing up in your esophagus.
Best Practices: It is best to, eat any heavy meal at least three hours before you start exercising. If you are eating a meal less than two hours before your workout, eat less.
Eat foods your body can digest easily, like bananas, whole wheat toast, and oats are excellent low-fiber, carbohydrate sources. Avoid proteins and high-fiber foods, which take more time to digest.
Be sure to keep yourself hydrated while you are exercising. When hydrating, be sure to take larger gulps. This way the fluid leaves your stomach more quickly.
Exercises that Worsen Digestion
Some exercises will actually make your digestion work more poorly. Vigorous running, for example, will increase the risk of digestive disorders, giving you increased diarrhea and nausea. This is especially true for women who exercise for running, such as marathon running.
No one knows the exact effect of running on the digestive system but it appears to have something to do with the effect of exercise on the colon.
Make sure you wait at least two hours after eating before engaging in an exercise program. Exercising on a full stomach can shunt blood away from the digestive tract to the muscles, adversely affecting the way your GI tract can affect good digestion.
Learn to listen to your body. If your body tells you it is uncomfortable while exercising, and or, if your digestion juices are acting up, make the necessary adjustments.