Developing Early Exercise Habits May Make for a Healthier Microbiome, Study Finds

Are fitness plans among your New Year’s resolutions for 2016? You may want to make sure your kids are aiming to be active this year as well as new research points to the healthy gut bacteria as a benefit of early exercise habits.

The research, conducted by University of Colorado at Boulder, was published in a recent issue of the journal Immunology and Cell Biology.

According to the research, regular physical activity at a young age can help friendly gut bacteria proliferate, and influence your metabolism over the course of your life.

Our digestive systems begin to colonize with bacteria shortly after we’re born. One of the most prolific components in breast milk is indigestible by babies; it’s meant instead for bacteria that inhabit the growing digestive tract, the microbiome. These bacteria use it as food, and as they grow and cover the intestines, they help prevent the onset of illnesses and diseases.

Gut health in infancy will influence gut health as adults, the researchers note. And maintaining that health throughout life may come down to how active an individual is.

 “In one study, for example, juvenile rats who voluntarily exercised daily went on to develop a microbial community containing more ‘good bacteria’ in the gut compared to their sedentary counterparts, or adults who also performed physical activity,” reports Forbes

While it’s still not known why or when the exercise activity begins to benefit gut health, but the researchers note it’s a significant discovery as gut health also correlates to brain health.

 “Previous research has shown that the human brain responds to microbial signals from the gut, though the exact communication methods are still under investigation,” reports Science Daily.

"Future research on this microbial ecosystem will hone in on how these microbes influence brain function in a long-lasting way," said Agniezka Mika, a graduate researcher in CU-Boulder's Department of Integrative Physiology and the lead author of the new study.

The research also comes just after another study looked at the physical fitness levels of obese people and determined health is still at risk from obesity-related early deaths, even if the overweight person exercises, pointing to an ongoing link between eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, and maintaining physical activity on a regular basis.

image: phalinn

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