Why exercise should become one of your favorite things

As the cold days of winter close in, it can be hard to drag yourself out of the house to get any kind of exercise.

And that's especially true for today -- when all you want to do is stay in your jammies and cuddle up under a blanket with sleeves.

If you've been reading my eTips for a while now, you know that studies have shown time and again that being active benefits your heart and brain... helps you sleep better and live longer... and even reduces your risk of diseases like cancer and diabetes.

And now, a new pair of studies out of the University of Illinois have uncovered another surprising benefit: Exercise can beef up your muscles AND the good bugs in your belly.

Now, that may not matter to you much on a holiday like today -- so go ahead and enjoy being surrounded by friends and loved ones.

And save this latest research for when you're ready to take action, whether that's December 26 or January 2.

In the first study, researchers transplanted fecal material (yes, "poop") from the colons of either sedentary or active mice into the colons of "sterile" mice who were raised with no microbiomes of their own.

It turned out that the sterile mice who received transplants from donor mice who exercised had a higher proportion of beneficial bacteria in their guts than those whose donors were sedentary.

More specifically, these were bacteria that produced butyrate -- a short-chain fatty acid known to promote gut health, reduce inflammation, and even produce energy for your body.

And when the researchers introduced a chemical known to set off ulcerative colitis into the mice's guts, those who'd received transplants from active mice were less likely to develop it than their counterparts with sedentary donors.

These positive gut changes weren't limited to mice -- because in the second study, researchers analyzed the gut microbes of a group of sedentary adults after they participated in an exercise program for six weeks AND after they'd returned to a sedentary lifestyle for six weeks.

It turned out that concentrations of butyrate and other beneficial short-chain fatty acids INCREASED following the exercise program... and DECREASED after they went back to being couch potatoes.

So, for the good of your gut, get moving! Especially considering the "ick factor" of having somebody else's fecal matter transplanted into you.

Not an option!

Any form of exercise will do. If the cold weather is sidelining you from your favorite outdoor activities, you can always take a brisk walk around the mall... try a dance class... or join a health club for the season.