Exercise influences gut microbiota composition, enriches health-promoting bacteria

Rigorous running may not make your heart any healthier than a longer walk
Rigorous running may not make your heart any healthier than a longer walk

The types and doses of exercise, as well as breaks in sedentary behaviour, may impact the composition of the gut microbiota, a new study reports. Data show that even the minimum level of exercise, as recommended by the WHO, can enrich health-promoting species in the gut microbiota.

A total of 40 women between the ages of 18 and 40 and were premenopausal were recruited. Participants had BMI between 20 to 25 kg/m2. Participants were either sedentary (did not engage in at least three 30-minute moderate exercises per week) or active (engaged in at least 3 hours of exercise per week).

Stool samples were collected from the participants and were used to determine the microbiota composition. Researchers performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing to identify species and quantitative PCR to determine corresponding abundances.

Of the women, 21 were sedentary and 19 were active. Aside from levels of physical activity (p=0.039), there were no significant anthropometric differences between the groups.

In terms of bacterial diversity, no significant differences between the active and sedentary groups were found. In terms of abundance, the Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria and Tenericutes were the most common phyla found with abundances of 54, 44, 0.96 and 0.39 percent, respectively.

Furthermore, the Acidobacteria, Spirochaetes and Elusimicrobia phyla were found only in sedentary women. There were no significant differences observed between the two groups in terms of bacterial phyla, but there was a modest trend of increased Fermicutes (p=0.085) and Bacteroidetes (p=0.076) in active women.

On the other hand, active women showed enriched populations of the following bacterial species relevant to health: Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (p=0.029), Akkermansia muciniphila (p=0.002) and Roseburia hominis (p=0.005).

The findings show that exercises and breaks in sedentary behaviour influence the gut microbiota and enrich the population of health-relevant bacterial species.