Get The Motivation You Need to Exercise From A Healthy Gut

Posted November 2023
Seaweed salad, Salmon sashimi, pickled ginger & sesame seeds on Corn Thins slices

There are many health benefits to exercising. From the feel-good rush afterwards to the longer-term health benefits such as reducing your risk of chronic diseases like type two diabetes, cancer and obesity. However, getting the motivation to get up and move can be the hardest part of the whole process. There are many strategies you can use to help increase motivation but one strategy you may not have thought of is the power of your gut to get you feeling motivated to exercise.

Researchers have discovered that certain sensory neurons of nerve cells which become activated by stimulus from their environment, which live in your gut, may impact your ability to exercise. A type of compound called  fatty acid amides is produced by the gut microbes and stimulated the sensory neurons. These sensory neurons produce cause the release of dopamine, a feel-good hormone, in your brain when you exercise.

The release of dopamine during exercise increases your desire to exercise again in the future and enhances your motivation. The type of bacteria which can produce fatty acid amides is called Clostridia bacteria. You may have heard of the pathogenic varieties of this bacteria but this genus of bacteria also has varieties which are helpful to human health.

To create your optimal gut microbiome which includes the Clostridia bacteria, a lifestyle approach is recommended. Firstly, eating a varied and balanced diet which is largely based on plant-based foods. This includes foods such as wholegrains &/or wholegrain containing foods like Corn Thins slices, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, fruits, and vegetables. An adult needs between 25-38g of dietary fibre a day for health.

Secondly, including probiotic rich foods to add the health promoting microbes into your gut. These includes foods and drinks like kefir, tempeh, yoghurt, and miso. Aim for two serves of probiotic rich foods in your diet each day. Thirdly, including seafood as a source of omega-3 fat has links to a healthy gut microbiome. Aiming for two to three serves and a serve being 100g a week is recommended.


Take home message: While there will always be excuses not to get up and move, a healthy gut microbiome may help you feel more motivated to exercise.



  1. Dohnalová L, et al. A microbiome-dependent gut-brain pathway regulates motivation for exercise. Nature. 2022. Epub Dec. 14. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05525-z.
  2. Types of Neurons. University of Queensland.
  3. Gut microbes produce metabolites that mimic human signaling molecules. Fatty acid amides produced by Clostridia can help the bacteria to modulate their host by mimicking human signaling molecules. Microbiome Post
  4. Samul D, Worsztynowicz P, Leja K, Grajek W. Beneficial and harmful roles of bacteria from the Clostridium genus. Acta Biochim Pol. 2013;60(4):515-21. PMID: 24432307.
Ashleigh Felth…
Accredited Practising Dietitian
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    • Ashleigh Felth…