It may seem strange, but exercise can really help improve your digestive health. That doesn’t mean preparing your body to run a marathon, it’s about taking simple steps every day to better health.

Carrying excess weight around the midriff can really affect the digestive system. This extra weight can put pressure on the stomach, squashing food mixed with stomach acid back into the gullet – which can cause heartburn. And if this is left untreated can cause painful ulceration. In addition, constipation has been linked to obesity.

Regular exercise can not only help you lose weight, but it can relax you and make you feel good. And this can have knock on effects on your gut too. But how should you do it?   Help is at hand from personal trainer Sophie Christy, and whatever the time of year she’s asking you to think about your VEST!

V = Vary your exercise
E = Everyday routines can include exercise
S = Step to it and check your exercise rates with a pedometer
T = Thirty minutes, five times a week.

Click on the letters to get more information

But don’t exercise after your meals. Relaxation stimulates the vagus nerve and facilitates digestion. If you eat on the run or exercise within two hours of eating a meal, then not only will you feel sluggish, but the exercise will inhibit digestion causing digestive symptoms such as nausea or abdominal cramping.