Effect of Intensity and Duration of Exercise on Gut Microbiota in Humans: A Systematic Review

Romina Bonomini-Gnutzmann, Julio Plaza-Díaz, Carlos Jorquera-Aguilera, Andrés Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Fernando Rodríguez-Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


(1) Background: The gut microbiota might play a part in affecting athletic performance and is of considerable importance to athletes. The aim of this study was to search the recent knowledge of the protagonist played by high-intensity and high-duration aerobic exercise on gut microbiota composition in athletes and how these effects could provide disadvantages in sports performance. (2) Methods: This systematic review follows the PRISMA guidelines. An exhaustive bibliographic search in Web of Science, PubMed, and Scopus was conducted considering the articles published in the last 5 years. The selected articles were categorized according to the type of study. The risk of bias was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute’s Critical Appraisal Tool for Systematic Reviews. (3) Results: Thirteen studies had negative effects of aerobic exercise on intestinal microbiota such as an upsurge in I-FABP, intestinal distress, and changes in the gut microbiota, such as an increase in Prevotella, intestinal permeability and zonulin. In contrast, seven studies observed positive effects of endurance exercise, including an increase in the level of bacteria such as increased microbial diversity and increased intestinal metabolites. (4) Conclusions: A large part of the studies found reported adverse effects on the intestinal microbiota when performing endurance exercises. In studies carried out on athletes, more negative effects on the microbiota were found than in those carried out on non-athletic subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9518
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • adults
  • aerobic exercise
  • elite athletes
  • gut microbiota
  • large intestine


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of Intensity and Duration of Exercise on Gut Microbiota in Humans: A Systematic Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this