Health and performance coach David Birtwistle shares his top fitness tips to help you keep your gut healthy and happy as well as improve your overall fitness.

Did you know that regular exercise and movement can have a positive impact on your gut? It’s because movement helps increase the diversity of your gut microbiome. What’s more, exercise can help promote more efficient digestion as well as alleviating bloating and constipation. Exercise can also improve your mental health, which, in turn, can benefit your gut as too much stress can adversely affect your gut – causing a vicious circle! My workout below is super simple and can help you get moving at home to help improve your microbiome health.


Always start your workout with a warm up. This can be some gentle stretches (like these, designed for women over 40), eventually working up to some more repetitive movements and lunges. This will help to prepare you mentally and physically and increase your heart rate, and therefore your blood flow, to enable more oxygen to reach your muscles.

TIP! Allocate around 10 mins for a warm-up and include the following three movements.

Cat cow

• Kneel on the floor on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees directly below your hips.

• Inhale while flexing your lower back and bringing your head up while tilting your pelvis towards the ground.

• Hold for 10 seconds, then exhale and bring your abdomen in, arching your spine and bringing your head down and pelvis up (pictured above).

• Repeat several times.

Alternate raises

• Start on all fours, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees under your hips, spine in neutral, head looking to the mat and neck in alignment with your spine.

• Reach your right hand forward and away from you so it comes out in a straight line parallel to the floor, and at the same time, shoot your left foot away from you so the leg stretches out into a straight line, also parallel with the floor.

• Keep your torso level while you do this, not letting your pelvis dip.

• Bring your arm and leg back into the all-fours position, then repeat with the left arm and right leg.

• Do this 10 times in a slow and controlled way. This helps to work your core and stabilising muscles.

Hip flexor lunge

• Kneeling on the ground, bring one foot forward with your foot flat on the ground and lean into the bent leg.

• Extend your back leg out ever so slightly so you can feel a stretch down the front/hip of your extended leg.

• Hold for up to 30 seconds, deepening the stretch if you can. Swap legs.

• Option: reach your hands back to open your chest.


Muscle strengthening exercises, which include using weights of some form, whether that be your body weight or equipment, are important as they can help you maintain the ability to perform everyday tasks. Exercise in any form can help your gut, while strengthening exercises may also reduce gut inflammation and slow down the rate of bone and muscle loss associated with ageing. Incorporate weights into your workout – even using a can of beans or a filled water bottle will create some weight and build up your strength.

TIP! Aim for 15 minutes of these strength exercises. Repeat each move across 4 sets with small breaks in between.

Military Press

• Start in either a kneeling position (one knee up and one on the floor for stability), or sitting on a Swiss ball.

• Hold a weight in both hands and start with them by your shoulders, elbows bent to a 90-degree angle.

• Push both weights up above your head (keep your elbows soft and don’t lock them out), then slowly lower them back down. Repeat 10 times.

3-point dumbbell row

• Stand next to a bench, hinged at the waist and with one knee and hand on the bench supporting you.

• With a weight in your other hand, drive your elbow towards the ceiling, pulling the weight up to the side of your rib cage.

• Pause at the top, then lower slowly back to the start.

• Do 8-10 reps, then repeat on the other arm.

Mountain climbers

• Start in a plank position but with your pelvis slightly dipped towards the ground.

• Bring alternate legs up towards your chest in quick succession in a “running” motion. Continue for as long as you can (up to 1 minute).

Health and performance coach David Birtwistle is a personal trainer who runs online coaching with a team of elite trainers, helping clients through a combination of bespoke food, movement and mindset coaching. Find out more information at or follow him at for some top fitness tips. David is also working with Yakult on their Gut Active campaign. Visit for more.

Words: David Birtwistle. Images: Shutterstock.