According to a new survey from UKActive, a British organization devoted to improving the health of citizens, the average British adult spends three hours and nine minutes on the toilet every week, compared to one hour and 30 minutes exercising.
Could not working out lead to more toilet time?
According to Dr. Andrew Albert, a gastroenterologist and medical director for digestive health at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, the answer is yes.
“Exercise is critical to keeping your bowel movements regular,” says Dr. Albert. “If you suffer from constipation, exercise, with proper hydration, can help to move things along.”
How much should you exercise? The National Health Service (NHS) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and two or more days of strength and conditioning a week.
But exercise alone is not enough to get your digestive tract on track.
“Proper nutrition is also essential for digestive health,” says Dr. Albert. “The majority of us in the U.S. are over-fed but under-nourished, meaning we eat the wrong types of calories, and way too many of them, instead of fueling our bodies with essential nutrients to keep it running effectively.”
“Lots and lots of leafy greens, vegetables of all colors, fruit, gelatinous plant foods, like aloe and chia seeds and healthy fats in moderation, like avocados and olive oil, should be part of every person’s daily digestive-healthy diet. Packaged and processed foods should be limited or avoided all together, as they are full of preservatives and unhealthy ingredients that hinder a healthy digestive system.”
The bottom line, says Dr. Albert, is to take care of your body with proper nutrition, hydration and exercise, so your digestive system can function optimally. Plus, this same heavily plant-based diet has been shown to be healthy for the brain and heart, as well.