7 at-home workouts to boost your gut health (tried & tested)

From massaging your intestines with yoga twists to stimulating your bowels with abdominal crunches, here are gut-loving online workouts you can try right now — all you need is an exercise mat

Regular exercise, such as doing at-home workouts, can be beneficial for your gut microbiome.

We are in lockdown, the trilogy, and what is being termed the era of the digital fitness boom. With gyms still closed, there has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been a surge in demand for online at-home workouts. Last year alone saw a 700% increase in UK Google searches for home workouts and one million people subscribe to British fitness instructor Joe Wicks’ YouTube channel in the space of a week. Meanwhile, the popularity of fitness apps also skyrocketed; there were almost one million downloads of Public Health England’s ‘Couch to 5k’ app within three months and an average of two million people each month registered to use Strava for the first time.

But, with so many platforms and videos to choose from to get our fitness fix, it can feel overwhelming and mind-boggling to know which to invest our precious time in. And, this is made even more confusing when we are bloated, constipated or our gut just doesn’t feel right.

That’s where The Gut Choice comes in — I’ve done the tedious scrolling through videos and tried and tested plenty. Here, I’m sharing the workouts I’ve found to be best for my tummy in the hope they can help yours.

But, how can exercise help our gut health? A recent study showed that participants who exercised for 30 minutes, three days a week, for six weeks experienced a beneficial change in the composition of their gut microbiome. Regular exercise also helps to encourage healthy bowel movements.

From massaging your intestines with soothing yoga twists to strengthening your stomach muscles and alleviating stress with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), there’s something to improve your gut health whatever your symptoms, mood or ability. Just go steady and listen to your body. If you’re experiencing significant stomach discomfort, avoid pushing yourself too hard.

So, get in your fitness gear, move dogs, cats and furniture out of the way and get ready to move.

If you’re feeling constipated
  • Duration: 10 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Suitable for: intermediate/advanced 

This Tabata-style workout does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s short, it’s intense and you will feel your abs burn! The nation’s favourite lockdown PE teacher Joe Wicks, a.k.a The Body Coach, takes you through 10 exercises designed to activate your core and strengthen your abs. And, if constipation is your problem, this could help to get things moving. Evidence shows rhythmic ab exercises can encourage bowel movements by increasing blood flow to the gut. There may have been a bit of grunting on my part through this one, but it felt great knowing I had worked hard, only used up 10 minutes out of my day and I was supporting my digestive health. It’s really versatile too — you can either do this on its own if you’re short of time or tag it onto a cardio session for a quick way to target your midsection.

The fast-paced gut-boosting one
  • Duration: 12 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Suitable for: all levels

If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you may recognise this workout and you’ll know it was a personal trainer who introduced me to it. I wanted to focus on strengthening and toning my core, but little did I realise the benefits it would have for my gut and digestion; it made such a difference that I now regularly incorporate it into my exercise routine. It uses full-body movements to really work your abdominals, including your obliques and deep core muscles, while the HIIT method can provide a major boost for your gut health. Plus, it gets the heart rate pumping which helps to burn fat and leave you burning calories for hours after the session. An invigorating session that targets your core and optimises your digestive health simultaneously. Check out how to do it. Just be cautious as too much HIIT can contribute to gut disruption.

For when your digestive system is off balance
  • Duration: 18 minutes
  • Equipment: yoga mat
  • Suitable for: all levels 

I was so thrilled when I discovered this ‘Yoga For Gut Health’ video from international YouTube yogi Adriene Mishler and it didn’t disappoint; it’s everything you want when you know your gut needs a helping hand — short, gentle, comforting and restorative. This do anywhere, anytime practice aims to aid digestion, detoxify and reset your system. Through nourishing twists, therapeutic postures and breathwork, your internal organs receive a delicate massage. Meanwhile, Adriene teaches us how to lovingly deepen our relationship with our gut. Roll out your yoga mat and breathe…

For when you have more energy
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Equipment: exercise mat
  • Suitable for: all levels 

As part of her Monday Night Meetups series launched during lockdown, Australian PT and founder of SWEAT Kayla Itsines shares a high-intensity workout “sure to elevate your heart rate and leave your core burning.” It combines cardio moves with muscle-building abdominal exercises. So, while you’re toning your midsection, rest assured you’re stimulating your bowel too. Plus, Kayla makes it so much fun; apart from the fact I was panting like a dog, it didn’t feel like hard work and it’s a great stress-buster which is a major contributor to my IBS. But, don’t be put off by the fast nature — the key message throughout this challenging workout is to go at your own pace. The only rule — no stopping until the music stops!

A natural mobilising remedy for your gut
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Equipment: exercise mat
  • Suitable for: all levels 

Again, this one may seem familiar as I recently shared this gut-boosting workout that personal trainer and fitness coach Caroline Fullerton created exclusively for The Gut Choice. The short Fitness Pilates sequence uses floor-based movements with an emphasis on engaging the core. It features the single-leg stretch which tones your core by activating and working your TVA (transverse abdominal) muscles and a spinal twist which provides a gentle and welcome massage for your stomach. I love it because it’s only 20 minutes so it’s easy to incorporate into even the busiest of days and the movements feel like medicine for my gut. All you need is yourself and your exercise mat. Access another exclusive Fitness Pilates standing mobility workout as well as a behind-the-scenes (or workouts rather) interview with Caroline.

A hug for your tummy
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Equipment: yoga mat
  • Suitable for: all levels

Another fabulous yoga practice from the just as fabulous Adriene; I’m sure she has a yoga class for whatever situation or mood you are in and this one is ideal for when you need something calming and to just breathe. If you’re experiencing stomach cramps for whatever reason but you’re fed up with being sedentary, like I was when I did this, it’s a workout that you can still do. Combining gentle stretches, soothing spinal massages and cosy postures, it’s like a warm loving hug for your intestines. The key here is to not push yourself and to do what feels good for your body at that moment. Adriene coaches you to use your breath to complement each movement which in turn will help to activate your parasympathetic nervous system (sometimes called the rest and digest system) and encourage healthy digestion. This can be done on its own or before a workout if you feel  like you want a little bit more.

For when you just need to dance it out
  • Duration: 15 minutes
  • Equipment: exercise mat
  • Suitable for: intermediate/advanced

Who’d have thought looking after your gut could be so much fun? Well, with this cardio dance workout, from CEO and founder of DanceBody Katia Pryce, it really is! As we know, stress can cause major disruption to our gut and sometimes we just need to dance that anxiety and tension away. Learn to use your abdominal muscles in every dance move, strive for a strong core and get those feel-good hormones pumping with some groovy Latin vibes, all in just 15 minutes. Just be sure not to put too much pressure on your core during the floor-based exercises if you’re experiencing stomach discomfort. And if you don’t have much rhythm, like me, don’t be disheartened if you have to attempt this video several times before you nail the moves. The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself and let go of negative thoughts. Remember, a happy mind = happy tummy.

Enjoyed these? Have you noticed benefits to your gut health? Get in touch.

You should always warm up before doing any workout and consult your GP before beginning a new exercise programme. Be mindful of your own physical ability. All exercises are done at the participant’s risk.

4 thoughts on “7 at-home workouts to boost your gut health (tried & tested)

  1. Invisibly Me says:

    A 700% increase in online searches, wow! I’m not surprised many took to home workouts but it’s interesting to see just how much it really boomed. You’ve listed some great exercises here to help with gut motility. The one from Kayla Itsines sounds pretty fun if you’ve got the energy and don’t mind getting sweaty! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gemma says:

      I totally agree! I was shocked when I discovered this statistic; I expected it to have increased, but just perhaps not that much!
      Kayla’s workouts are so much fun and I love the fact that she gives alternative options and if you’re just not feeling too energetic one day, you can go slower.
      Thanks for your comment Caz. Let me know how you get on if you try any of these. 🙂

      Gemma x

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gemma says:

      I think it is more difficult to motivate ourselves at the moment! I hope you can find something that works for you within this list. Let me know how you get on if you try any. Thanks for reading Molly.

      Gemma x

      Like

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