Probiotics and exercise

Probiotics And Exercise

Many people are aware of the benefits of probiotics, the live bacteria found in yoghurts, drinks and capsules that are helpful for maintaining healthy digestive function. However, could athletes benefit from a daily dose of these friendly bacteria?


Although the effectiveness of probiotic use in athletic performance has not been thoroughly researched, a recent study in Clinical Nutrition provided some interesting findings.[1] Two probiotic supplements (B1-04TM and Bi07TM) given to healthy adults reduced the risk of them contracting respiratory illness and enhanced training load during physical exercise. Individuals consuming a daily dose of B1-04TM decreased the risk of upper respiratory tract illness by 27 per cent and remained free of upper respiratory symptoms seven weeks longer than the placebo group. This was similarly found with individuals taking the Bio7TM supplement, albeit on a greater scale for nine weeks. This supplement group also demonstrated the most significant rise in level of physical activity, which could be linked to them having the longest delay in illness.


These findings indicate that probiotic supplementation may be beneficial in reducing the frequency of athletes’ colds or infections. This means training can be more consistent, a key component for improvement in performance.


“It is a known fact that physical activity is reduced or may even stop when people are feeling the effects of respiratory symptoms. So, these findings are important, particularly for those who engage in competitive sports and need to maintain fitness” said Professor David Pyne, senior physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport and lead investigator of the study.



[1] West NP, Horn PL, Pyne DB, Gebski VJ, Lahtinen SJ, Fricker PA, Cripps AW (2013). Probiotic supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals. Clin Nutr 10 Oct (Online ahead of print).

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