When our gut is not functioning optimally, the stool can travel too slowly and lose too much hydration along the way – resulting in constipation, bloating and discomfort. Of course, the first thing we need to do is make sure we’re eating enough fibre and drinking plenty of water. But did you know that all kinds of exercise can help move things along, too?
• Aerobic exercises that get your blood pumping, like running, swimming and dancing, can help to stimulate gut activity
• Yoga-inspired stretching exercises stimulate the gut by massaging our insides.
Here are a few of our favourite tummy massagers!
1. Seated twist:
Sit on the floor with your back straight and legs straight out in front of you. Bend one leg as close as you can towards your body, keeping the foot flat on the floor. Cross the foot over the straight leg and hold on to it with the opposite arm. Use your arm to pull your body closer to your leg, in a twisting motion. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat 10 times and then swap sides.
2. Knee hug:
Lie on your back, relax and bend your legs. Hold on to your knees with your hands and draw them up to your chest, holding them firmly against your body. Rock gently from side to side about 5 times. Release your legs back to the floor and then repeat the exercise 5 times.
3. Body bend:
Stand with the feet 20-30cm apart for balance. Starting from the neck, roll your head carefully down towards the floor until it is hanging as low as it can. Holding on to your legs, gently pull your body closer to your thighs for a few seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.