5 Exercises That Aid In Optimal Digestion

optimal digestion

A healthy functioning digestive system breaks down food into nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other vitamins and minerals. Exercising regularly can help move food through your digestive system, lower levels of inflammation, and help you achieve optimal digestion. 

Exercises For Improving Your Digestion

Eating is a great pleasure in life that is also essential to your overall health. Eating nutritious foods and engaging in physical activity are vital in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Birmingham Gastroenterology knows that recurring digestive symptoms can cause significant disruptions in your day-to-day life. We have compiled a list of 5 exercises that aid in optimal digestion.


The benefits of yoga extend well past aiding in optimal digestion. Yoga improves strength, balance, and flexibility, helps relieve back pain, eases arthritis, benefits heart health, and can even help you relax. Healthline suggests that yoga may help relieve digestive issues by decreasing stress, increasing circulation, and promoting gut motility. Popular yoga poses for optimal digestion include:

  • Seated side bend
  • Seated twist
  • Corpse pose
  • Knees to chest
  • Cat/cow
  • Cobra Pose
  • Child’s pose

Finding a yoga class or instructor near you can help keep you accountable. Or, these exercises can be done right in the comfort of your own home! 


Walking has several different benefits, including maintaining a healthy weight, improving cardiovascular fitness, increasing energy levels, and aiding in optimal digestion. Walking helps to move food through your large intestine by muscle contractions. Additionally, walking is low-impact for those who struggle with joint and muscle pain. A fun way to keep yourself accountable is by tracking your progress. Try one of the following apps for activity tracking:

  • Map My Run
  • RunKeeper
  • MapMyFitness

You could also invest in a fitness watch, like an Apple Watch or a FitBit, to help track your activity and progress.   


Cycling is another excellent option for healthy digestion, as it helps move food quickly through the digestive tract. It also may reduce the water that is lost in your stools, also improving digestion. A few tips to get the most out of your bike ride include:

  • Maintain a good posture, not arching your back or applying too much pressure on your hands/ the handlebars
  • Stay hydrated and ride at a pace that is good for you
  • Pay attention to your surroundings
  • Set a schedule and plan your route

Physical activity such as biking for 20-30 minutes a day can help expel gas that causes pain and help move digestion along.

Abdominal Exercises

Maintaining a strong core benefits bowel movements and your intestines, which helps regulate much of your digestive system. Additionally, having a strong core leads to better balance and stability, and can help improve your posture. Some exercises to help aid digestion and strengthen your core include sit-ups, leg lifts, abdominal twists, and crunches. Try to include these exercises in your workout routine 4-5 times a week.

Intentional Breathing 

Intentional and deep breathing is a part of all the exercises listed above but can also stand alone as its own exercise. Diaphragmatic breathing can help improve your gut health by managing feelings of stress and tension. WebMD suggests these different techniques for intentional breathing:

  • Deep breathing: Get comfortable, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Take at least three deep breaths.
  • Breath focus: Close your eyes, take a few big, deep breaths, breath in a sense of peace and calm, and breathe out your feelings of stress and tension. Continue this for at least 5 minutes. 
  • Equal time breathing in and out: Get comfortable, breathe in through your nose. As you breathe in, count to five. Breathe out through your nose to the count of five. Repeat several times. 

If you are looking for ways to improve your gut health or achieve optimal digestion, Birmingham Gastroenterology can help. We have decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options or ask questions about activities that help aid digestion, call us at (205) 271-8000.

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