Study: Intense Exercise Affects More Than Just Muscles

Scientists in Poland have discovered that intense exercise changes the amount of bacteria in a horse’s digestive system. Exercise limits the amount of oxygen intestinal mucosa receives, which could stimulate bacterial growth in the digestive system so that more nutrients can be metabolized. 

Drs. Wanda Górniak, Paulina Cholewińska, Natalia Szeligowska, Magdalena Wołoszyńska, Maria Soroko and Katarzyna Czyż used seventeen 3-year-old racehorses in training at Partynice Race Course for their study. All the horses were fed the same forage and were trained with only trot and canter work. The team asked the horses to race just over a mile (1,900 meters), and took fecal samples before and 48 hours after the work. The horses had not been worked at speed for two weeks prior to the study. 

When comparing the bacteria in the fecal samples, the scientists found a significant increase in both Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes bacteria in all samples taken after the horses worked at speed, but they noted that each horse responded differently. This indicates that each horse may respond individually to exercise.

The changes in bacteria may allow for the diet, intensity, and quantity of training of racehorses to be adapted as a whole. The discovery of individual bacterial responses to exercise may lay the groundwork for specifically tailored diet and conditioning programs to improve horse health and the individual’s ability to adapt to exercise.

Read the study here.

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