With the World Cup, Wimbledon and Tour de France being key topics in the UK over the last few weeks, exercise and the different ways in which to get fit have been highlighted more than ever!

However, what is the impact of exercise on our guts? At relatively low levels, repetitive exercise may have protective effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Some evidence suggests that exercise may even reduce the risk of constipation, diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease and gallstones, as well as offering protective benefits for colon cancer.

Our digestive tracts have a high muscle content, and like other muscles in the body, these are stimulated by exercise. Exercise along with a healthy fibrous diet may help with constipation as it will help to stimulate the natural contraction of the intestinal muscles, therefore ensuring the stool moves more efficiently through the digestive tract.

Various studies have shown those who are more active to have a better defecation pattern (less firm stools, more frequent defecation, higher stool weight) compared to inactive controls.

However, spare a thought for endurance athletes who can experience all number of gastrointestinal issues as a result of their sport, including; nausea, heartburn and diarrhoea.