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Moving For Gut Health

Moving For Health

We’ve all heard by now that exercise is essential for good health and longevity.  No surprises there.

The surprise can come however, when you overdo exercise and end up more exhausted and depleted than when you started running/swimming/gym sessions etc.

This is the phase that I call the ‘red zone’ of exercise – the place where exercise does more damage than good.  Not just for your energy levels, but also for your gut health.

When Over-Exercise Becomes More Damaging Than No Exercise

When your health is already under-par, say because of a chronic condition, or because you’re not eating nourishing foods, or you’re just plain tired from work, responsibilities or life, exercise is not a good idea.

The fact that your body already struggles to go through the few physical actions that are required to just ‘live’, is an indication that you are already running on empty and need to rest rather than push harder.

The ‘no-pain – no gain’ mentality has unfortunately created a mass of exhausted, sleep-deprived, nutrient poor, highly stressed individuals who keep pushing when everything in their bodies and minds says ‘no!!’

High cortisol and adrenaline, being constantly pushed into your bloodstream because of your chronic stresses and anxiety, will only get further spiked if you then add another layer of demands on your body.

The result: you are likely to go further into depletion of essential nutrients, so other areas of your body will suffer. This may include your immune system, your energy levels, your sleep, your metabolic rate, skin, hair, general ‘mojo’ and libido.

In addition, your gut will never thrive under such conditions, as it simply cannot function in ‘fight or flight’ mode. It just isn’t designed to digest when it thinks you’re constantly being chased by a dinosaur.

Movement Versus Exercise

So what’s the solution? Sitting on the couch all day? Sleeping all day? Well, if you continue pushing your body beyond its limits for too long, these might be your only options.  In fact, many of my more ‘pushy’, competitive clients sometimes get to the point of chronic exhaustion (ME), depression, irregular hormones, constant colds, flus, etc.

But before you get to this place (hopefully never!), here is a far healthier alternative: movement.

Regular movement of your body is always a better option than over-exerting exercise – particularly if your daily life is already demanding on your energy levels.

Movement For Guts

In order for food and broken-down particles of food to move down your digestive tracts, peristalsis needs to happen.  This is the natural movement within the walls of your digestive system, that contracts and relaxes in order to create a flow of food and nutrients to also be absorbed more easily through your intestines.

Peristalsis happens far more efficiently when we move. And it actually stops completely when we’re in the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. Hence the need to relax more, not to add more stress to our central nervous system.

Peristalsis also means that you are less likely to experience lack of bowel movements or constipation. This is an essential part of your natural cleansing system, which will flush out unwanted toxins, waste and heavy metals.

What Movements Are Recommended?

Some examples of what ‘movement’ means can include: walking – (even only 2,000 steps a day), taking the stairs, moving around the house after a meal, jumping up and down for a minute on the hour if you’ve been sitting at your desk, or a quick sprint to the loo.

You may prefer other options, such as gardening, dancing around the kitchen or playing tag with the kids.  Whatever gets your body moving – regularly is key.

Add to this enjoyment, fun and a bit of a sweat, and you can keep your gym money to buy yourself some new fitted clothes.

But I Love Running/Gym/ etc?!

I’m not saying you need to give up all your favourite sports.  All you need to do is connect with yourself on a daily basis and ask yourself:

Where are my energy levels right now? (1-10)

Did I eat enough today to fuel my run/swim/long cycle etc?: (1-10)

Did I sleep well last night? (1-10)

Am I stressing out right now and is it exhausting me? (1-10)

Will this exercise push me beyond my limits? (1-10).

Assess yourself and be honest. There’s always tomorrow.

And if you want to continue the gym or other more strenuous exercise, then make sure the other elements are ticked: food, hydration, rest & relaxation in the day/evening, high energy, good sleep.

Always start with self-awareness in order to make the right choice for you.

Image: pexels-julia-larson



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Brighton (UK)-based and international Nutritional Therapist & Health Coach

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Nathalie Sansonetti

BA, MA, DNn, Dip AIT, HCI Certified Coach

Join more than 800 people I have helped with their health and nutrition needs. You can trust my qualifications and experience to achieve the same results for you.

  • Nutritional Therapist (10+ years)
  • Accredited Health Coach (Health Coach Institute)
  • Emotional Freedom Therapy/Matrix Re-imprinting Practitioner 
  • Federation of Nutritional Therapy Practitioners, Member
  • UK Health Coaching Association, Member

The information on this course is not intended to replace medication or advice from your general practitioner (GP), medical doctor or specialist and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information based on the research and experience of Nathalie Sansonetti and her work as a Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach. N.Sansonetti encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.