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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 3831972, 8 pages
Review Article

Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects

1Department of Experimental Medicine, Section of Human Physiology and Unit of Dietetic and Sport Medicine, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy
2Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
3Department of Medicine, Surgery, and Dentistry “Scuola Medica Salernitana”, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Giovanni Messina

Received 5 August 2016; Revised 18 December 2016; Accepted 5 January 2017; Published 5 March 2017

Academic Editor: Ryuichi Morishita

Copyright © 2017 Vincenzo Monda et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is inhabited by a wide cluster of microorganisms that play protective, structural, and metabolic functions for the intestinal mucosa. Gut microbiota is involved in the barrier functions and in the maintenance of its homeostasis. It provides nutrients, participates in the signaling network, regulates the epithelial development, and affects the immune system. Considering the microbiota ability to respond to homeostatic and physiological changes, some researchers proposed that it can be seen as an endocrine organ. Evidence suggests that different factors can determine changes in the gut microbiota. These changes can be both quantitative and qualitative resulting in variations of the composition and metabolic activity of the gut microbiota which, in turn, can affect health and different disease processes. Recent studies suggest that exercise can enhance the number of beneficial microbial species, enrich the microflora diversity, and improve the development of commensal bacteria. All these effects are beneficial for the host, improving its health status. In this paper, we intend to shed some light over the recent knowledge of the role played by exercise as an environmental factor in determining changes in microbial composition and how these effects could provide benefits to health and disease prevention.