This study examined the effect of an exercise intervention on the composition of the intestinal microbiota in healthy elderly women. Thirty-two sedentary women that were aged 65 years and older participated in a 12-week, non-randomized comparative trial. The subjects were allocated to two groups receiving different exercise interventions, trunk muscle training (TM), or aerobic exercise training (AE). AE included brisk walking, i.e., at an intensity of ≥ 3 metabolic equivalents (METs). The composition of the intestinal microbiota in fecal samples was determined before and after the training period. We also assessed the daily physical activity using an accelerometer, trunk muscle strength by the modified Kraus-Weber (K-W) test, and cardiorespiratory fitness by a 6-min. walk test (6MWT). K-W test scores and distance achieved during the 6MWT (6MWD) improved in both groups. The relative abundance of intestinal Bacteroides only significantly increased in the AE group, particularly in subjects showing increases in the time spent in brisk walking. Overall, the increases in intestinal Bacteroides following the exercise intervention were associated with increases in 6MWD. In conclusion, aerobic exercise training that targets an increase of the time spent in brisk walking may increase intestinal Bacteroides in association with improved cardiorespiratory fitness in healthy elderly women.
Keywords: aerobic exercise training; brisk walking; cardiorespiratory fitness; intestinal Bacteroides; intestinal microbiota; trunk muscle training.