Exercise Can Improve The Digestion

Exercise science has come a long way in the last 10 years, and we now recognize different types of exercise, and the fact that each will have a different impact on your health.

Some of the continuous aerobic forms of exercise that primarily utilize oxygen and fuels such as body fats and body sugars to release energy to power movement are:

  • low-intensity aerobic conditioning (such as walking)
  • high intensity aerobic endurance (running)
  • anaerobic threshold training (sprint/jog)

There are also different types of high-intensity anaerobic exercise that primarily use the breakdown of body sugars without involving oxygen to release energy to power movement. These can be sprinting in sports (such as tennis, squash, basketball) or lifting weights.

And then there are the “soft” forms of exercise, such as stretching, yoga, relaxation, and massage.

Your health

Each of these exercise types will have a different impact on your health. For example, high-intensity activities may actually harm your health if done to an extreme. This is how overuse injuries occur, or illnesses such as exercise induced anemia.

If you have a particular health or medical problem you need a specific exercise plan that is tailor-made to suit your lifestyle, your goals, your problem, your finances, your interests, and the type of environment and people that you respond to positively.

If you are obese or overweight, you should not run or undertake any other form of high-impact activity. These will pound away at your knees hips, and lower back and may cause long-term (chronic) injuries.

If you have high blood pressure, you should not undertake any forms of exercise in which you are straining against heavy objects (such as weight lifting), or where you are constantly sitting or lying down and getting up (such as old-fashioned circuit training or multi-peak aerobics classes).

Your intestines

The digestive system is basically a conveyor belt that moves food through the digestion factory, which converts food into energy and nutrients that fuel and build the cells of your body.

You load food into your mouth and chop it up into tiny pieces, and then your tongue shovels it down the esophagus (throat) and into the stomach. A spoon-shaped flap (called the epiglottis) stops food going down your airways and into the lungs.

More muscles in the stomach churn up the food and add digestive juices and hydrochloric acid, then squirt this soupy mixture into the small intestine, where more digestive juices are added by the liver and the pancreas.

Most of the absorption of the nutrients takes place in the small intestine, which is why it is so long and thin. It looks like a mixed up bundle of rope and takes up most of your stomach’s area.

What is left is then passed into the large intestine, where the watery part of the “soup” is re-absorbed. What is left of the food (called feces, which means dregs in Latin), arrives in the rectum somewhere between 12 and 36 hours after it has been eaten.

The best exercises for improving the functioning of your digestive system are the lower-intensity activities, right down to relaxation and massage.

These low-intensity aerobic activities will work to directly improve circulation in the cardiovascular system (the heart and blood vessels), and also in the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system is your second circulation system, which scoops up the watery fluids surrounding your cells, and transports this fluid to the cardiovascular system, where it is transported to the kidneys for filtering or to the liver for re-processing.

Many of the fats absorbed into the body are caught by the lymphatic system and transported to the blood.

The best type of exercise for improving your digestive system is daily low intensity aerobic exercise. Examples of suitable activities include walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming.

Regular aerobic exercise will increase blood volume and increase the number of blood vessels spreading throughout your body. This means there is more blood available to absorb nutrients from digestion and to transport those nutrients to the liver for processing.

Regular aerobic exercise will also improve the muscle tone of all those smooth muscles that are involved in pushing food through the digestive system and churning it up to mix in digestive juices. That means that the digestive process will be more regular and efficient.

Ask any regular runner if jogging helps speed up the transport of the fecal matter to the anus for excretion from the body!


Did you realize that the saliva in your mouth has a digestive enzyme designed to break down starches into sugars?

Chew some cooked potato for a while and keep it in your mouth. Soon the tasteless potato will start to taste sweet. This is because a salivary enzyme (called amylase) has started to break the starch down into sugar!

Your motto

Your first motto should not be “Go out and get some exercise”, but “Go out and find someone who can tell me how to exercise”.

The fitness industry has staff trained and educated in exercise science; it has a fitness-leader registration system so you can recognize qualified staff; it has great facilities and equipment; and most venues are set up for the average person of any age to exercise and enjoy themselves.

Your second motto should be “Eat less fatty food and get more aerobic exercise”.

Look at your plate every time you eat. If more than 25 percent of your plate is taken up with high-fat foods (such as meat or fried foods) you have too much fat in your diet.

Your efficient digestive system will extract all the fats from the food, and store them as body fat unless you get the right type of exercise to burn up fat. In the process you will get healthier.

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