Background: Physical activity can be involved in the prevention of gastrointestinal (GI)-tract diseases,
however, the results regarding the volume and the intensity of exercise considered as beneficial for protection of
gastrointestinal organs are conflicting.
Aims and Methods: The main objective of this review is to provide a comprehensive and updated overview on
the beneficial and harmful effects of physical activity on the gastrointestinal tract. We attempted to discuss recent
evidence regarding the association between different modes and intensity levels of exercise and physiological
functions of the gut and gut pathology.
Results: The regular, moderate exercise can exert a beneficial effect on GI-tract disorders such as reflux esophagitis,
peptic ulcers, cholelithiasis, constipation and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) leading to the attenuation
of the symptoms. This voluntary exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. On the other
hand, there is considerable evidence that the high-intensity training or prolonged endurance training can exert a
negative influence on GI-tract resulting in the exacerbation of symptoms.
Conclusion: Physical activity can exhibit a beneficial effect on a variety of gastrointestinal diseases, however,
this effect depends upon the exercise mode, duration and intensity. The accumulated evidence indicate that management
of gastrointestinal problems and their relief by the exercise seems to be complicated and require adjustments
of physical activity training, dietary measures and medical monitoring of symptoms. More experimental
and clinical studies on the effects of physical activity on GI-tract disorders are warranted. Especially, the association
between the exercise intensity and data addressing the underlying mechanism(s) of the exercise as the complementary
therapy in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, require further determination in animal models