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Exercise to Keep Your Digestive Tract Healthy. Image shows person running outside.

Exercise to Keep Your Digestive Tract Healthy

movement/exercise nutrition Jul 15, 2020

Move to Keep Your GI Tract Healthy

Exercise can help support digestive health and function in many ways:

  • Exercise improves blood flow throughout your digestive system and the rest of your body.
  • Aerobic exercise like walking, running, and cycling can help to strengthen abdominal muscles. Strong abdominal muscles assist digestion.
  • Regular aerobic activity can also activate your digestive tract and stimulate muscles that propel digestive waste through your intestines.

The good news is that almost any exercise you enjoy can help your digestion. The Resilient Movement Plans  are great a place to start if you don't have an exercise routine. There are also more targeted activities designed specifically to help your gut, wind relieving pose and abdominal self massage.

Two Movement Practices for Better Digestion


1. Wind Relieving Pose

This yoga posture can increase blood flow to the digestive system and facilitate colonic activity.

Here's how to do it:

  • Start by lying flat on your back and drawing both legs up to the chest.
  • Extend the left leg straight out.
  • Bend your right leg, clasping your right shin with your hands.
  • Draw your knee in close to your chest.
  • Hold for 20 breaths and then repeat on the other side.


2. Abdominal Self-Massage for Digestion

Abdominal Massage

This is an effective and accessible practice to help your digestive system. This practice also pairs perfectly immediately after the wind relieving pose. This practice actually includes the stimulation of acupressure points and can be delivered by yourself or another person. This can help to relax you (and your muscles) and activate the large intestine. In general, you can massage your belly in any motion or pattern you wish. You may want to set aside 10-20 minutes to complete the massage activity. However, using circular motions may better relieve constipation.

Here's what to do:

  • Lie down on your back with knees bent and your feet on the floor. This activity is best done with the eyes closed for tuning into to your body. Your intestines are located between the hip bones in the lower abdomen.
  • Think of your abdomen as a clock face about the size of your hand, with your belly button at 12 O’Clock. Start at this 12 O’Clock spot and use your fingertips to gently press into the abdominal area in a circular motion for 5- 10 seconds at each “number” on the clock face until you complete the circle.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly as you move around the belly area in this clockwise rotation, pressing a little more firmly the second or third time around. Repeat the circular massage movement for 10 minutes or so, taking a break as needed for rest or to go to the bathroom.
  • Finish by gently dropping your arms by your sides and continue to breathe in a relaxed and comfortable manner. You may want to offer yourself a healing affirmation such as “My stomach and intestines are in balance and ready to support a health digestive process.”


Add Aromatherapy to Support Digestion

Aromatherapy is an underutilized tool to support digestion. It is fast-acting, safe, and can be surprisingly effective. Essential oils used in aromatherapy, like other integrative therapies, aim to unify physiological, psychological, and spiritual processes to enhance the mind and body’s inborn, natural healing processes.

Soothing aromatherapy blends such as lemon, spearmint, and ginger may calm agitation in mind and body and settle the GI tract.



Eat Mindfully to Improve Digestive Health

When you practice mindful eating, you avoid distractions (like your phone) so you can fully notice and appreciate the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food. You'll chew more slowly with this practice, which benefits your digestion and satisfaction while eating. Read more.


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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice and is not a replacement for advice and treatment from a medical professional. Consult your doctor or other qualified health professional before beginning any diet change, supplement, or lifestyle program. See our terms for more information.

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