Impact of Different Exercise Modalities on the Human Gut Microbiome

Dierdra Bycura, Anthony C. Santos, Arron Shiffer, Shari Kyman, Kyle Winfree, Jay Sutliffe, Talima Pearson, Derek Sonderegger, Emily Cope, J. Gregory Caporaso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


In this study we examined changes to the human gut microbiome resulting from an eight-week intervention of either cardiorespiratory exercise (CRE) or resistance training exercise (RTE). Twenty-eight subjects (21 F; aged 18–26) were recruited for our CRE study and 28 subjects (17 F; aged 18–33) were recruited for our RTE study. Fecal samples for gut microbiome profiling were collected twice weekly during the pre-intervention phase (three weeks), intervention phase (eight weeks), and post-intervention phase (three weeks). Pre/post VO2max, three repetition maximum (3RM), and body composition measurements were conducted. Heart rate ranges for CRE were determined by subjects’ initial VO2max test. RTE weight ranges were established by subjects’ initial 3RM testing for squat, bench press, and bent-over row. Gut microbiota were profiled using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Microbiome sequence data were analyzed with QIIME 2. CRE resulted in initial changes to the gut microbiome which were not sustained through or after the intervention period, while RTE resulted in no detectable changes to the gut microbiota. For both CRE and RTE, we observe some evidence that the baseline microbiome composition may be predictive of exercise gains. This work suggests that the human gut microbiome can change in response to a new exercise program, but the type of exercise likely impacts whether a change occurs. The changes observed in our CRE intervention resemble a disturbance to the microbiome, where an initial shift is observed followed by a return to the baseline state. More work is needed to understand how sustained changes to the microbiome occur, resulting in differences that have been reported in cross sectional studies of athletes and non-athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number142
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • exercise
  • gut
  • microbiome
  • resistance training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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