Does Running Slow Down The Digestive System

It’s a common belief that running can slow down the digestive system, but is there any truth to it? As a runner myself, I’ve often wondered about the effects of running on digestion. Let’s explore this topic in more detail.

Understanding the Connection

When we engage in intense physical activity like running, our body prioritizes the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to our muscles. This means that blood flow is redirected away from the digestive system to support the working muscles. As a result, some people experience gastrointestinal symptoms during or after running, such as cramping, bloating, or the urge to use the restroom.

The Science Behind It

Research suggests that running can indeed slow down the digestive process. The stress of running triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which can have a direct impact on digestion. Additionally, the jostling motion of running can also affect the normal rhythmic contractions of the digestive system, leading to a feeling of discomfort or sluggishness.

Personal Experience

From my own experience, I’ve found that running on a full stomach can lead to some unpleasant sensations. It’s best to give your body time to digest a meal before hitting the pavement. On the other hand, a light jog can actually help alleviate feelings of bloating and promote regularity for some individuals.

Striking a Balance

While it’s clear that running can impact the digestive system, it’s important to note that the effects vary from person to person. Factors such as individual physiology, diet, and hydration levels all play a role in how running affects digestion. Some runners may find that their digestive system adapts and becomes more efficient over time, while others may need to make adjustments to their pre-run routine.


Ultimately, the relationship between running and the digestive system is complex and multifaceted. While running may temporarily slow down digestion due to the redistribution of blood flow and the release of stress hormones, the overall benefits of regular exercise for digestion and overall health cannot be overlooked. It’s essential to listen to your body, make necessary adjustments, and find a balance that works for you.