Over a trillion microorganisms live in our gut and can affect many processes and other systems in the body. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have been able to show that exercise at an early age can have a huge effect on our gut microflora. A healthy gut then leads to healthier brain and metabolic activity throughout one’s life.

Exercise has been shown countless times to have many health benefits over the course of an individual’s life. It promotes better metabolic functioning, improved mental health, and physically keeps our body in shape. Now researchers have shown there appears to be a crucial period in a child’s life where exercise can positively influence one’s gut microflora. This then leads to crucial immune system developments that a child will carry with them throughout their lives.

Although gut microflora can still be influenced through healthy diet and nutrition later on in life, it was found that during child development is where it is most important. There appears to be a huge influence that exercise can have at this time in which one’s microflora is first developed. Researchers aren’t certain at exactly what age this occurs, but future research will aim to identify at what ages the plasticity of the gut microflora is at its highest.

Agnieszka Mika, Monika Fleshner. Early life exercise may promote lasting brain and metabolic health through gut bacterial metabolites. Immunology and Cell Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/icb.2015.113

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