Many research have looked at the positive effects of exercise on microbiota, but very few have looked at the opposite connection. One new study that did cover this topic, however, found that oral antibiotics may cause reduction in exercise.
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Broad-spectrum oral antibiotics may lower motivation and stamina for voluntary exercise in adults, according to a study from the University of California (UCR), with the impacts being amplified in high-exercise groups.
On June 1, UCR physiologist Theodore Garland said, “We believed an animal’s collection of gut bacteria, its microbiome, would affect digestive processes and muscle function, as well as motivation for various behaviors, including exercise.”
The researchers (read below) used mice models to perform their research, eradicating intestinal bacteria in two groups of mice: those raised for voluntary exercise and those that were not.
The mice were given broad-spectrum oral antibiotics, and the clearing of the gut microbiome was validated by fecal samples obtained 10 days later, with no aerobic bacteria colony discovered when the samples were plated and incubated.
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The authors noticed an instantaneous decline in running distance and time for mice raised for voluntary exercise, even while the mice’s bodyweight and general health remained similar.
The more sedentary control mice’s total running time and cage activity were also decreased, however the difference was not significant.
Furthermore, regardless of researchers’ attempts to reintroduce the gut microbiota back into the mice’s intestines, exercise levels in the voluntary running cohort did not return to pre-treatment levels following the 12-day recovery period.
A microbiota wipeout was likened to an injury, according to the authors.
“A casual exerciser with a minor injury wouldn’t be affected much. But on a world-class athlete, a small setback can be much more magnified,” said Monica McNamara, the lead author of the study.
The researchers think their results may have consequences for humans, despite the fact that the study was conducted on mice models.
“Though we are studying mice, their physiology is very similar to humans. The more we learn from them, the better our chances of improving our own health,” Garland said.
“We would hypothesize that antibiotic treatment may have adverse effects on exercise performance, at least in elite athletes,” he said in an email.
Many research have looked at the positive effects of exercise on microbiota, but very few have looked at the opposite connection.
One theory is that the microbiome influences voluntary activity by converting carbs into molecules that go through the body and participate in specific metabolic processes.
“Metabolic end products from bacteria in the gut can be reabsorbed and used as fuel,” Garland said. “Fewer good bacteria means less available fuel.”
Furthermore, the effects of the gut microbiome on behavior are thought to have consequences for motivation, implying that the gut microbiome performs a function in reward circuits.
The microbiome produces metabolites that communicate with cells and neurons in the reward system, albeit their role is unknown.
The researchers want to figure out which microorganisms are responsible for improved sports performance in the future.
“If we can pinpoint the right microbes, there exists the possibility of using them as a therapeutic to help average people exercise more,” Garland said, noting that some of the university’s ongoing experiments are aimed in this direction.
Healthy nutrition can help to improve microbiota composition. To improve overall health, Garland suggested eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.
“We do know from previous studies that the western diet, high in fat and sugar, can have a negative effect on biodiversity in your gut and likely, by extension, on athletic ability and possibly even on motivation to exercise,” he said.
Read the study below: