Exercise improves the gut microbiome of dogs and humans

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Several research studies are showing that exercise has significant effects on the gut microbiome—including microbiome diversity—than previously thought.[*][*][*]

Both human and dog microbiomes are alive with a vast array of different types of bacteria. Their role ranges from fermenting dietary fibers to vitamin synthesis and fat metabolism regulation. They even support the immune system against invading microbes, and they help regulate inflammation.

Microbiome diversity is showing to be a key indicator of long term health—and it's associated with a longer lifespan in humans and dogs.

Early research

Exercise has many health benefits—and gut microbiome improvement is one of them. The exact biological mechanism behind it was unknown until recently. The first clues came from observations in mice where exercising mice had less pro-inflammatory Turicibacter than sedentary mice.

Then another study showed how exercising rats had higher intestinal production of butyrate. Butyrate is known to provide fuel for gut cells and modulate gut permeability and inflammation. 

Another observation in mice then saw how mice who exercised harbored more Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, which is a known anti-inflammatory microbe.

Recent athletic research

In humans, studies have shown an increase in gut microbial diversity in athletes compared to sedentary humans as well as exercise-linked increases in F. prausnitzii and butyrate production. This study shed additional light that exercise has a direct effect on the microbiome.

Another study investigated people who exercised at higher intensity for 30-60 minutes 3 times a week, controlling for diet too. The study’s findings illustrated an increase in butyrate producers’ relative abundance regardless of body mass index. This is a strong indicator of a healthier microbiome simply through exercise.

While the health results were fantastic, it's worth noting that the beneficial effects of exercise on the gut reversed six weeks after the experiment ended in sedentary humans. This shows that we need to keep exercising to keep the benefits.

Finally, another study compared sedentary and exercising Finnish diabetes patients. The exercising cohort of patients had increased Bacteroidetes, a group of bacteria crucial for digesting sugars and proteins and releasing anti-inflammatory molecules in the gut.

Exercising also decreased excess Clostridium and Blautia. Those genera of bacteria are known to be pro-inflammatory, aggravating the immune system.

Dog microbiome research

But are these effects relevant in dogs too? Several studies have been done on the canine microbiome showing that our dogs' bodies work in a similar way.[*][*][*][*][*]

This is one reason we stress the importance of taking daily walks with your dog. In addition to a natural diet and taking probiotics (try our Perfect Probiotics dog food topper here), continued exercise with your dog is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy microbiome so both you and your dog can live longer.

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