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Journal of Integrative Medicine: Volume 15, 2017   Issue 4

DOI: 10.1016/S2095-4964(17)60342-X
Review
Exercise and gut microbiota: clinical implications for the feasibility of Tai Chi
Hidetaka Hamasaki (Hamasaki Clinic, 2-21-4 Nishida, Kagoshima 890-0046, Japan )

ABSTRACT

 Recent studies have shown exercise is associated with changes in the gut microbiota in humans as well as in experimental animals. Tai Chi is an exercise that integrates a martial art, deep breathing and mediation, and has various beneficial effects for health. This review summarizes current knowledge and recent literature on the association between exercise and gut microbiota, and explores the feasibility of Tai Chi for improving gut microbiota composition and function. PubMed/MEDLINE was used to search the English literature for the keywords exercise and gut microbiota. Fourteen relevant studies were identified. In humans, exercise increases the gut microbial diversity. However, the evidence for this association is weak, as previous studies were small-scale, non-controlled studies of short duration or cross-sectional design. In animals, exercise alters the composition of gut microbiota, with some studies suggesting exercise increases the Bacteroidetes/Firmicutes ratio. However, these results are controversial, partly because host genetics and physical fitness also influence gut microbiota. Furthermore, the intensity of exercise may play a key role in how exercise affects gut microbiota. Tai Chi is a moderate-intensity exercise that improves immune function and inflammation of the gut. Tai Chi may also affect gut microbiota through vagal modulation and mediating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. However, no studies have investigated the association between Tai Chi and gut microbiota. Well designed studies exploring the effects of Tai Chi on gut microbiota are needed.

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Hamasaki H. Exercise and gut microbiota: clinical implications for the feasibility of Tai Chi. J Integr Med. 2017; 15(4): 270–281
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