The microbiome, the bacteria that live in the gut, is involved in functions outside of our gastrointestinal system.
Not everything is in the mind. The motivation to exercise can come from the gut as well as the brain.
A study done on rats shows that some Gut bacteria may increase dopamine release During physical activity, which contributes to motivation.
Although most of us know that exercise has many benefits, the amount of exercise that people do varies widely, says Christoph Theis of the University of Pennsylvania (USA). He and his colleagues wanted to identify physiological factors that might explain this variation.
They collected data on exercise capacity, genetics, gut microbiome composition, etc. from 106 mice and fed it into a machine learning model for analysis. The model found that how often the mice exercised was closely related to the composition of their microbiome.
In a subsequent series of experiments, they found that mice with weakened gut microbiomes spent half the time voluntarily running the wheel as those with intact microbiomes. Additionally, dopamine levels in their brains dropped during physical activity, suggesting that they found exercise less rewarding. The team repeated these experiments in mice with an intact microbiome, but no neurons connecting the gut to the brain, and observed the same effect as in mice with a reduced microbiome. Taken together, these findings suggest that the gut plays an integral role in motivation to exercise, Theis says.
Motivation to exercise can come from gut as well as brain
The team also identified molecules produced by certain gut bacteria called fatty acid amides that, when given to mice with reduced microbiomes, restored the frequency with which they observed levels in the intact microbiome in mice. “Intriguingly, the motivation to exercise is not intrinsic to the brain, but controlled by the gastrointestinal tract», explains Thais.
This is not the first time that it has been discovered that the microbiome interferes with functions outside of our gastrointestinal system. In fact, previous studies have shown that Bacteria in our intestines may affect our moodRegulates blood sugar levels and even protects against inflammation associated with diseases such as heart disease and dementia.