Increased physical activity improves gut microbiota composition and reduces short-chain fatty acid concentrations in older adults with insomnia

Faiga Magzal, Tamar Shochat, Iris Haimov, Snait Tamir, Kfir Asraf, Maya Tuchner-Arieli, Carmel Even, Maayan Agmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Physical activity (PA) can improve functional abilities, well-being, and independence in older adults with insomnia. Studies have shown that PA may be linked to changes in the gut microbiota composition and its metabolites’ concentrations. This association among older adults with insomnia, however, is yet to be determined. We explored the relationships between physical activity (PA) levels, gut microbiota composition, and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) levels in this population. Forty-nine community-dwelling adults with insomnia symptoms, aged 65 and older, participated in this study. Their average daily step-count and sleep continuity measures over a two-week period were calculated based on Actigraphic recordings. Each participant provided fecal samples for the microbiome and SCFA analyses, anthropometric measures, and information via questionnaires on medical history and food consumption. The gut microbiota composition and SCFA concentrations were determined by next-generation sequencing and Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, respectively. Participants were divided into two groups (more and less active) according to their median step/day count. We compared the microbiota abundance and SCFA concentrations between groups and performed correlation analysis between gut microbiota abundances and study variables. Different microbiota taxa in each PA group and increased SCFAs in feces of less active individuals were found. Changes in step counts were positively or negatively associated with the relative abundance of 19 ASVs, 3 microorganisms at the family level, and 11 microorganisms at the genus level. Furthermore, significant associations were discovered among physical activity, gut microbiota, SCFAs, and sleep parameters. Our findings provide new insights on the relationship between PA, gut microbiota composition, and primary metabolites in older adults with insomnia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2265
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


This article was funded by Council for Higher Education (Grant no. 3-13607). The study was carried out in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. The institutional review board (IRB) of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences at the University of Haifa approved this study and all its methods, conforming to relevant guidelines and regulations (approval number 026/17). All study participants signed informed consent forms. This research received funding from the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology grant number 3-13607.

FundersFunder number
Council for Higher Education3-13607
Ministry of science and technology, Israel


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