There are many factors that contribute to your digestive health. While nutrition has an important impact on the digestive system, food is not the only factor. Exercising and being active plays a huge role in how well your digestive system and intestines function as well.
We all know how uncomfortable it feels to be ‘backed up.” Constipation is a result of slow bowel movement. As you become less active, your intestinal flow tends to slow down as well. It’s important to note that your intestines have more than 100 million nerves, which makes them very sensitive to what you eat, drink, and how active you are.
Your colon is one of the first organs that is affected by a lack of exercise and inactivity. A higher heart rate and faster breathing help your bowel movement by stimulating the natural contraction of muscles in the intestines. As the intestinal muscles squeeze better, your stool movement increases. Exercise also lowers the time it takes for food to move through the large intestine. The longer it takes for stool to move, the more water is absorbs by the body. The result is a hard and dry stool which is difficult to move and leads to constipation.
The goood news is that you don’t have to do hard core exercise or be a triathlon athlete to get your gut going. Small exercises, even if done at home, can help your digestive health.
Although exercising is essential to a healthy gut, consider waiting for at least an hour after a big meal before starting your workout. As you eat, the blood flow around your stomach and intestines increases to help your body digest the food. Your glut’s muscle strength is dependent on the amount of blood that runs to it after eating. If you start exercising without giving your body enough time to digest the food, most of the blood will be pulled back from your stomach to heart and other muscles. This can lead to bloating and constipation. So after you have a big meal, give your body enough time to digest the food before hitting the gym or going for a hike.
What exercises help the digestive system?
Generally being active helps a lot with digestion and bowel movement.. Just walking or jogging 10 to15 minutes a few times per week will help tremendously. If you are already a relatively active person, here are a few exercises that specifically help your glut:
A 30-minute aerobic exercise like biking, swimming, running, and dancing can get your blood pumping and stimulate bowel movement. Rope skipping does wonders when it comes to defeating constipation and it can be done easily in your bedroom for just 10 minutes a day. It’s important to keep hydrated and drink plenty of water before, during, and after your exercise. Drinking adequate water will lubricate your intestines while dehydration makes your stool dry and difficult to move.
Stretching abdominal muscles:
Simple rotation stretches like spinal twists of your trunk and lower back definitely help constipation if done a few times per day. Generally, any exercise that stretches your abdominal muscles and increases your inter-abdominal pressure help with creating more bowel movement. Deeper stretches like side trunk stretches and deep squads as well as some yoga movements do magic to your digestive system.
It’s highly recommended to use deep stretch exercises and yoga movements on a regular basis to prevent lazy bowels and constipation. Taking a yin yoga class not only helps your health and digestion, it will also release the negative energy stored in your joints and muscles and relaxes your mind.
There are specific yoga movements are especially helpful to keep your gut healthy:
Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
Sitting Half Spinal Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Plough Pose (Halasana)
Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Energy-freeing Pose (Pavan muktasana)
Working the ab muscles in a rhythmic fashion can stimulate a bowel movement by increasing the blood flow to the gut, and triggering peristalsis. This can help push a stool through to the colon a bit more quickly. Crunches, reverse crunches and butterfly crunches are also great choices. Exercises that mainly focus on abs such as pilates, belly dancing, barre, battle robe, and TRX are great abs building exercises that will boost your digestive systems and keep your gut healthy.
If you don’t have time or are not physically ready to take a class, you can just lie down on your back, massage your abdomens in a circular way, and stroke your belly-button from right to left and down to stimulate the colon movement. The payoff for maintaining a moderate amount of activity throughout the week is a digestive system that purrs along like a finely tuned sports car.