Regular physical exercise can benefit digestion. Exercising can also improve overall health and help manage the symptoms of certain health conditions.

Physical activity can help food move through the digestive system, improving digestion and reducing the chances of bloating and other symptoms linked to digestive issues.

Exercise can also help reduce stress, a potential cause of digestive problems.

This article will review how performing exercise may help with digestion and the different exercises that may benefit people with digestive problems.

A person performing yoga in their home.Share on Pinterest
Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images

Exercise may help maintain the correct bacterial balance in the digestive system.

A 2022 systematic review found that regular exercise helps decrease levels of harmful bacteria in the gut and increase the quantity of health-promoting microorganisms.

Additionally, a 2017 study showed that increased cardiorespiratory fitness was linked to increased biodiversity of the bacterial flora in the gut. This is good for gut health. The researchers also found improvement in the general health of the digestive system of people doing regular physical exercise regardless of their diet.

The same study found that athletes typically have lower chronic inflammation and morbidity. This may be related to the health benefits of exercise and the fact that athletes have moderate body weight.

Losing excess weight, if necessary, may help reduce digestive problems.

Regular exercise can also decrease stress levels, another potential cause of digestion issues.

Yoga and stretching combine poses and breathing techniques to improve physical and mental well-being, releasing stress and strengthening muscles.

A 2016 study found that yoga helped people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) improve their symptoms without experiencing side effects.

Yoga may also help a person manage stress. This can positively impact digestion, as stress can cause symptoms such as:

Breathing exercises help reduce stress levels, which may improve digestion.

People can do breathing exercises throughout the day. They can perform them lying down, sitting on a chair, or standing up.

A person can try breathing exercises by following these steps:

  1. Breathe in through the nose or the mouth.
  2. Let the breath flow deep down into the belly.
  3. Breathe regularly and gently count from 1–5.
  4. Breathe out slowly, counting from 1–5.
  5. Repeat this for at least 5 minutes.

Walking for at least 20 minutes after a meal can help digestion and regulate blood sugar levels.

Taking a walk after eating can improve digestion in people that are sedentary while they work or in the evening, as it prevents the metabolism from storing large quantities of carbohydrates. This may be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes.

Walking may improve the symptoms of people with IBS by increasing the diversity of the bacterial flora in the gut.

Cycling has various benefits for digestion.

Physical exercise can boost the number of healthy gut bacteria and promote the digestive system’s regular functioning. Cycling also strengthens muscles in the abdomen and releases endorphins that counter stress.

Additionally, it can help people maintain a moderate body weight, which can improve digestion.

People with weak abdominal walls may experience digestion problems, such as abdominal distention. This may cause bloating and other symptoms related to digestive issues.

Core exercises can help strengthen the abdominal wall and, as a result, improve abdominal distention and the symptoms related to this condition.

People may consider asking a doctor questions about the types of exercises that are suitable for their physical conditions and the intensity with which they should perform them.

Individuals taking certain medications to treat an underlying condition may also consider asking if they can practice exercise or about any other concerns related to physical activity.

Exercise can improve digestion and is good for boosting overall health.

Stress can cause problems in the digestive process. Physical exercise can reduce stress levels and improve the diversity of the bacterial flora in the gut.