Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Physical activity increases gut bacteria diversity

Previous work established associations in humans between physical activity and reduced obesity, reduced mortality, and improved cardiovascular health. Physical activity has been also associated with the microbiome in animals. Here, the relationship between physical activity and microbiome in humans was investigated.

The authors studied a cohort of 720 adults, citizens of Wisconsin, average age 55 years, 83% White, 10% Black, 42% male. Gut microbial, (bacterial) composition was assessed using sequencing the V3-V4 region of 16S rRNA extracted from stool samples. Note this is only a subset of the ‘microbiome’, not include non-bacterial components such as fungi, viruses, etc. 

They monitored physical activity using accelerometers worn on the hip (activity) or wrist (sleep). Participants also self-reported whether in a typical week they walked or biked at least 10 minutes continuously to get around. Those who responded ‘yes’ were classified as participating in ‘active transportation’. Note this is a threshold of less than half a mile a week, walking only about 100 m per day. 

Table 2. Linear mixed effects models (adjusted for characteristics, Table 1). CI, confidence interval; SD, standard deviation; MVPA, moderate to vigorous physical activity; ** p<0.05. *** p < 0.01.
They identified 865 unique bacterial taxa, largely encompassed by about 20 abundant phyla (Fig 1). They observed no change in bacterial diversity in participants who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous activity (line 2, Table 2, shown) or active transportation (line 3). However, when they analyzed those participants who engaged in higher levels of active transportation, at least 1 standard deviation (SD) above the average, they observed significant increases in bacterial diversity (line 4).

They also found the abundance of an unknown family from order Clostridiales was associated with increased weekly MVPA minutes. They conclude that their results “point to a potential pathway by which the gut micro- biota may be linked to physical activity and other well established health benefits”.

Holzhausen EA, Malecki KC, Sethi AK, Gangnon R, Cadmus-Bertram L, Deblois CL, Suen G, Safdar N, Peppard PE. Assessing the relationship between physical activity and the gut microbiome in a large, population-based sample of Wisconsin adults. PLoS One. 2022 Oct 26;17(10):e0276684. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0276684. PMID: 36288361; PMCID: PMC9605031.

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