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By: Dr. Patrick Dorvilus


n" secret thar regular exer-

/ cise is a key element to a healthy
I life. Exercise reduces stress,

strengthens muscles, the heart and lungs, and helps to lower cholesterol.

It also helps to control weight, fight

off chronic disease and boosts the

immune system, and can help to pro-

mote a good nightk sleep.

Yet another important benefit of

exercise is promoting healthy diges-

tion. The digestive system and intes- tines are made of an intricate network

of smooth muscles. These muscles

contract and move to break down and

digest food. This movement is called

digestive motility. Exercise helps to tone and strengthen these muscles to promote healthy digestion. When

move food more smoothly though the

intestines while helping to support the body's natural digestive rhythms. Exercise has a proven to be ben- eficial for the digestive s)rstem.ln 2005,

in a study involving 1,800 adults, re-

searchers concluded that exercise and a healthy diet could help obese people

reduce digestive problems such as

stomach pain, diarrhea, and irritable

bowel syndrome. Another study that

took place in the Netherlands focused

on determining whether the digestive system is an athletic organ.This study stated that gastro intestinal symptoms could be prevented with exercise.

Although it may be surprising, the

bowel and intestines are oftentimes calm during exercise. lf an individual

exercises on a regular basis, they are more likely to develop strong, condi- tioned muscles.This can cause the in- testines and bowel to relax even when

the individual is not exercising.

Another important benefit of ex-

ercise is stress reduction. Exercising releases endorphins, which are the braink neurotransmitters that bring

on positive feelings.When an individual is less stressed, the body's muscles -

including those in the digestive tract - can be more relaxed. Exercise and

endorphins directly affect mood and,

in turn, can help to support healthy di-

gestive function.

busy schedule.l suggest that individuals

begin with a gentle exercise regimen,

such as walking, and gradually build up

to more challenging activities. Taking

a fifteen minute walk during a lunch

break will help to promote digestion

and help to re-energize and re-focus

for the afternoon. Taking a walk with

friends, family or a pet after work is

not only great exercise, but an op-

portunity to build relationships that, in turn, promote overall well-being.

Swimming is an excellent way to gradu-

ally strengthen the body while working

toward more rigorous activities. Some of my patients practice yoga, which not only strengthens the body, but helps to

promote a sense of calm.

Along with an exercise regimen, many people have benefited from a

healthy digestion. These beneficial mi- croorganisms, or microflora, naturally occur in our bodies by the billions! Of-

tentimes, our bodies are depleted of these important microorganisms due

to medications, such as antibiotics, and diet.This can result in gastrointestinal

discomfort, bowel irregularity and nau- sea. Taking a recommended probiotic supplement can help to maintain and restore these beneficial bacteria and can potentially help maintain digestive






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