Resolving to get more exercise is among the more popular of New Years’ commitments, and a new study conducted by researchers at University of Colorado at Boulder lends further support, especially in the early stages of life. The research, appearing in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology, reports that exercise early in life can beneficially affect the microbial community in the gut, thereby promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity that endures over the course of a lifetime. Although the 100 trillion microorganisms of the gut remain malleable throughout life, the authors state that theirs is the first research to demonstrate the extra “plasticity” of the gut microbial community that exists only at a young age.
Gut microbes are essential to the development of the immune system, and appear to provide antidepressant effects as well as promote healthy brain function, although the mechanism of signaling to the brain is still unclear. In their study, the researchers found that juvenile rats who regularly exercised exhibited a superior microbial structure in comparison to both their non-exercising counterparts, and to active adult rats. The precise age range at which exercise is most beneficial to the gut microbe community is still undetermined, according to the authors, who plan additional investigation of the microbial ecosystem. Read more about the study findings here. The journal abstract may be read here.