Gut Health

Gut Microbiome Health and Cellular Health are the Keys to Optimizing Physical Performance

weight lifting

Movement is medicine

Physical activity controls and helps regulate physiological processes impacting your body's systems, including cellular and gut health. Movement is key for cutting stress while bolstering immunity. Because movement is medicine, it plays a critical role in health prevention, and additionally, it refines and improves mobility and self-reliance as we age.

It's becoming clear that a cornerstone of great health and stronger immunity is through the right food and nutrition, which helps nourish your gut microbiome and your human cells right down to the mitochondrial and molecular levels. People are becoming more conscious of this relationship. But, lesser-known is that your gut and your cellular health also play a fundamental role in fitness.

This interconnected system does more than simply break down nutrients. It produces hormones like testosterone and estrogen and neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Your cellular and mitochondrial health also influences inflammation levels, energy production, and your body’s ability to care and repair for itself. All of this is important to athletic performance.

It's important to note that this is a two-way street. Gut health impacts athletic performance, and conversely, activity impacts the health of your gut and your cells. You can read more on that in our article on fitness and the microbiome.

Just get started, then keep moving.

It is easy to embrace the fact that fitness is a crucial pillar of health. But when the drive is absent, summoning the energy or time to achieve your workout objectives can be challenging.

When it comes to physical activity at home to support their microbiomes, many feel at a loss for options. Some view exercise as a task to be checked off their list. If that mindset works for you, great! Yet, for many, adding another duty breeds anxiety when you're already overburdened. Finding the motivation to work out in daily life is hard. However, what if fitness wasn't on your to-do list?

What if you valued training like getting adequate sleep or eating a nutritious breakfast? It's time to reframe fitness as self-care. Though exercise's advantages exceed a face mask or massage, fitness and proper fueling are vital for optimal health; exercise reduces stress and anxiety like meditation or yoga.

Adding movement to your day can be as simple as making sure that you step away from your desk and stretch every hour or taking a daily walk with your dog. Slowly, over time, it will become possible to add more activity to your life, and you will personally discover what your body uniquely needs to be healthy. It helps to rethink exercise as something you get to do rather than have to do, shifting your outlook on prioritizing workouts. To reframe fitness as self-care requires time and drive. A few basic shifts can make training part of your self-care collection.

Try activities you love and mix it up.

No need to lift weights or jog for miles daily. Enjoy moving in ways that feel fun over grueling. Jog with your kids, and walk at lunch. Attempt new things! Trying new movement experiences or workouts keeps it novel and interesting for your body and mind. Over time, you will discover what activities you truly enjoy most, and these will form the foundation of your personal physical practice.

Schedule workouts like important appointments you wouldn't miss.

Treat yourself by honoring the commitments you make to yourself. View training times as sacred agreements. Block time in your calendar and schedule it out each week or even a month at a time. Even small sessions accumulate.

Consider your overall health.

Don't become a hypochondriac, but tune into your systems. Feeling feverish or have a sore throat? The American College of Sports Medicine says to stay active when possible but be mindful of others if potentially contagious. Moderate activity beats intense for immune boosting. Sometimes rest beats sweat.

Avoid an all-or-nothing mentality if you still dislike exercising.

Shifting outlooks takes time. Learn to listen to your body. Do what feels right on off days, then get back at it. But lean into movement and challenge yourself to, at the minimum, take a walk outside every day. Being overly sedentary, overtime is one of the worst things for our health. Frequently ask yourself why you train. When you embrace physical activity as a critical support for your body and mind, the pressure lifts, and loving your daily workout becomes easier.

Meet exercise requirements.

The World Health Organization advises 150 weekly minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of intense cardio, plus major muscle group strength training twice a week. If you struggle with longer sessions, consider breaking up your workout sessions and building in 'movement snacks' throughout the day in 10-minute increments.

Progress all fitness aspects.

Per the American College of Sports Medicine, build a fitness regimen that helps you develop cardio, strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, mobility, and agility. Similar to a healthy diet, a diversity of movement experiences will support the health of your whole body. Seek workouts addressing all for well-rounded resilience.

Add functional movements.

Compound movements that vary in tempo and mimic real-life movement are ideal. These allow joint kinetic chains versus isolation. Lunging sideways while pulling a kettlebell is more functional than overly relying on sets and sets of biceps curls. Expand your range of motion; go forward, back, side-to-side, and diagonally. Master execution of your form and technique using your body weight before adding more resistance. Slow speed and momentum make movement more lifelike.

Train specifically and diversely.

Maintain lifestyle/sports goals, including the integration of any typical motion patterns that are integral to maintaining a high-performing and functional body, into your training sessions. Be sure to diversify your workout sessions with opposing movements and mix in different training stimuli to engage potentially neglected muscles for balance and to prevent physiological overload. This reduces injury and boosts performance.

Balance training and recovery.

More isn't always better. Overloading your physiology with too much intensive training without recovery can lead to overtraining syndrome. Because bodily systems connect, this dysfunction may impact the immune, neurological, hormonal, and metabolic systems. Fatigue lingers, and performance declines, potentially for months.

Know good pain from bad.

When introducing new workouts and protocols into your training regimen, your body will need to adjust. Delayed soreness is common and can often occur 24-48 hours post-workout. Dull, intense, or sharp pain may indicate strains, sprains, or other extremes–it's your body signaling attention is needed. It's not "weakness leaving the body."

Analyze your program weekly/monthly.

Be strategic about your fitness development. Ideally, consult with an expert and work with them to design a training protocol that serves your overall health and longevity goals. Test and set a baseline, then identify opportunities to strengthen your body. Track your workouts and monitor your progress, but don't rush or worry about the results. Focus on the process; if you consistently show up for each workout and balance with adequate rest between sessions, your body will reap results.

Ensure adequate nutrition and hydration.

While fitness is critical for both gut and overall health, you can't outrun a poor diet. Don't underestimate the nutritional needs of your body to perform well. Low nutrient/calorie intake can cause relative energy deficiency, especially if your training program includes heavy training or high-intensity sessions. Pay attention to the relationship between the physical demands you put on your body and your nutritional requirements. Hydrate before, during, and after your workouts.

Personalize your nutrition.

Your ideal fitness routine is unique to you, and your diet should be too. How you eat and feed your microbiome will directly impact your desire and ability to train. Optimizing your health requires a multifaceted approach. As you explore ‌new fitness options, personalized nutritional support becomes even more important for optimizing workouts and fueling recovery. Learn more about your body's needs through testing and then strategically optimize your nutrition and overall health. Ideally, seek out nutritional expertise and adjust your diet and supplementation accordingly.


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