Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered that the composition of gut bacteria may play a significant role in determining how motivated an individual is to exercise. In a study conducted on mice, researchers found that those with a certain mix of gut bacteria were much more active and motivated to exercise than others.
The study divided mice into two groups, one group of mice ran an average of 30 kilometers in 48 hours in their wheel, while the other group of mice were lethargic in their cages. The genetic makeup of the mice was found to be the same, but the composition of their gut bacteria was different.
“Whenever the athletic mice ran on their wheel, the bacteria in their large intestine produced substances that went to their brain’s reward center and stimulated the production of dopamine,” “The more they exercised, the more dopamine was produced in their brains and the more motivated they were to exercise even more.”
However, when their gut bacteria was partially destroyed with antibiotics, the animals became much less active. “The opposite was also true: lazy mice whose gut bacteria were transplanted from active animals spontaneously began to exercise more,”
The researchers concluded that the composition of gut bacteria determines how motivated the animal is to do physical exercise. This is a interesting finding that could have far-reaching implications for human health and fitness. The scientists observed that a few years ago, researchers had compared the gut flora of top athletes to that of ‘ordinary’ people, and found that the gut flora of top athletes had a higher diversity. This suggests that there may be a similar connection between gut bacteria and exercise motivation in humans as well.