When your body does not digest your food efficiently it can be uncomfortable and lead to a number of gastrointestinal problems, including excess gas and constipation. Working out is one way to help regulate your digestive system and speed up food digestion. By incorporating certain exercises with the right diet, you can improve your digestive health and gain more energy throughout the day.
How Digestion Works
Food digestion begins in the mouth when you chew your food and continues as the food progresses down the digestive track. Your body releases a number of enzymes to break down carbs, protein and fat. On average, food digestion takes between 12 and 48 hours. Some items, such as liquids, fruits and vegetables, digest in 20 to 30 minutes, while most carbohydrates take about three hours to digest. Meats, on the other hand, can take 24 hours or more to digest. Therefore, what you eat plays a major role in how quickly your body is able to digest it.
Exercising and Digestion
Doing the right types of exercise can help your body become more efficient with digestion. Light forms of exercise are best to aid with digestion. Aerobic exercise strengthens the abs and eases the digestion process. Yoga also helps improve digestion; poses and stretches that require you to twist your torso are ideal as they improve blood flow to the digestive areas and balance digestion. When exercising to improve digestion, avoid overly strenuous exercises, as they can make digestive issues worse.
Improving Digestion Further
There are other things you can do, along with exercise, to improve your digestion. Stress can interfere with proper digestion by causing your body to become tense when your stomach muscles should be as relaxed as possible to digest food. In addition to relaxing exercises such as yoga, stress-relief techniques can help alleviate tension in the digestive system. Chewing is the primary way food is broken down before it reaches the digestive track. Chewing your food thoroughly can help the digestive process, since your stomach will have to do less work to break down food once it gets there. Eating a diet high in fiber, including foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, will also aid with digestion and contribute to better overall digestive health.
Some digestive problems cannot be remedied with diet and exercise. Therefore, you should always consult your physician if you are having digestive issues. She can evaluate your health to determine which foods or forms of exercise are best for your circumstance, or advise you on other ways to improve your digestion if the causes of your problems are more severe. Furthermore, if exercising is causing negative changes in your digestion, you should discontinue that exercise and inform your doctor right away.