n International SportMed Journal - The effects of physical activity on the gastrointestinal tract : review article

Volume 6, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



Physical activity has become popular in our sedentary society. Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are common during exercise among well-trained athletes and joggers. &lt;br&gt;&lt;I&gt;Objective:&lt;/I&gt; The aim of the present review is to summarise the current knowledge of the mechanisms behind the changes of gastrointestinal function during exercise. <br><I>Data sources:&lt;/I&gt; The electronic databases of PubMed and SPORTDiscus were searched for original research articles and literature reviews using the terms exercise, physical activity, gastrointestinal function and gastrointestinal tract. Searches of the library catalogue for older articles and reviews were also performed. <br><I>Study selection:&lt;/I&gt; Journal articles, abstracts and books containing relevant information about exercise and gastrointestinal function were reviewed and selected. <br><I>Data extraction:&lt;/I&gt; From these investigations and other data sources the analysed variables and the main outcomes were examined. <br><I>Data synthesis and conclusion:&lt;/I&gt; The effects of physical activity on the gastrointestinal tract were categorised by logical groupings of similar mechanisms. In the reviewed articles there is general consensus that exercise has probably both beneficial and harmful effects on the GI tract, depending partly on the training effect. The reasons behind these somewhat discrepant effects are not understood fully. Altered splanchnic blood flow, effects on GI motor function, neuroendocrine changes, and mechanical effects are mainly involved. There is probably a considerable linkage between these suggested mechanisms; however, more studies are needed to understand the relationship between exercise intensity and duration, and positive and negative alterations in GI physiology.

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