There are a number of reasons why most people could use more exercise, but for those who experience chronic gastrointestinal discomfort, one benefit trumps them all: relief from pain and constipation.
Physically, exercise promotes a healthy digestive system by keeping things moving and promoting glucose metabolism. Mentally, physical activity reduces stress, which is a known exacerbator of gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome.
But before you hit the pavement, learn more about how certain exercises can relieve discomfort and why it might be best to take it easy, especially if you’re not used to being active. Also, it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor about any lifestyle changes and how they might affect you.
Walk it Off
Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. Unless you know your body can handle it, try to avoid running or jogging because this kind of intense activity might trigger a flare up, or just be plain uncomfortable. If you need more activity, try walking uphill or adjusting the incline on your treadmill, as advised by WebMD. When walking outside, it might be a good idea to know where there are bathrooms on your route.
Even if your digestive problems are mild, going for a walk after a meal can help relieve gas pressure, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University Hospital of Heidelberg in Germany. The authors determined that this was much more effective than having an after-meal espresso or digestif.
Yoga for Mind and Body
People who practice yoga often see noticeable mental and physical benefits from the ancient exercise. In particular, yoga has been shown to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The practice encourages people to pay close attention to bodily signals, helping practitioners notice when something is wrong when a movement feels beneficial, and how to focus on ones breath to cope with discomfort.
Resting poses – such as gentle twists and supported backbends – are accessible for almost anyone and bring awareness to the abdomen to help reduce tension. If you’re interested in a more active yoga practice to alleviate symptoms of IBS or colitis disease, consult with your doctor and seek out an instructor who has experience teaching people with gastrointestinal disorders.
Weight Loss and IBS
The exercises discussed here can help promote a healthy weight, but are not necessarily vigorous enough to lead to significant weight loss. If you have IBS and need to lose weight, your regimen should be carefully developed by you and your doctor. Set a goal for yourself, and discuss it with your healthcare provider to determine the safest, most sustainable way to reach a healthy body weight and maintain it.