It has been observed that Patients with IBS tend to be less active.
Exercise can help boost overall physical health, reduce stress, and help with gastrointestinal symptoms like constipation, a common occurrence in people with IBS.
Exercise is beneficial in two ways
- Stress Buster: Stress is an important influencing factor for IBS patients. All who suffer from it agree that when stress increases, so do the IBS symptoms. Studies have shown that no matter what the cause of stress is, no matter what symptoms the stress causes, regular moderate exercise can help make you feel better.
- Healthy Gastrointestinal System: Exercise is critically important for the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal system. If your body is sluggish, your stomach will follow suit; if your body is fit and active, your stomach will be healthier and better regulated.
A 2011 study conducted at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg and at Alingsås Hospital, including 102 IBS patients between the ages of 18 and 65. showed that IBS sufferers who performed moderate to vigorous exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, three to five days a week, saw a dramatic improvement in abdominal pain, stool problems, and other symptoms. The group with unchanged lifestyle had an average decrease of symptoms by 5 points. The active group on the other hand showed a symptom improvement with an average reduction of 51 points. The researchers also showed that the group with an unchanged lifestyle had deteriorating symptoms in 23% of cases, compared with the active group in which only 8% felt worse. The measurement of fitness in the study showed a slight increase in the activity group only.
You can even try a 30-minute, intense strength training session, 2-3 times a week. Pump the weights hard; get a fierce burning in your muscles. See if it calms your IBS symptoms.
Try to schedule your exercise at least a few hours after your last meal.
Before exercising, avoid eating foods you know cause a flare up in your symptoms. It’s important to listen to your body
Irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t mean you can’t exercise or shouldn’t exercise. It simply means one more reason to work out!
Moderate Exercise: Cardio workouts where you can carry on a conversation during the activity, but you are breathing heavier and your heart rate is elevated. You can feel some effort and your muscles (or cardio system) definitely working. E.g. cycling, walking, swimming etc.
Vigorous Exercise: Intense and minus the conversation. You cannot sustain the activity for long, maybe for only minutes at a time. In between vigorous bouts, you take it easy for a few or more minutes. This is called intensity interval training. Done over a 20-30 minute period, you will have completed a vigorous exercise session that will relieve IBS symptoms.
IBS may influence where and when you exercise, but never use irritable bowel syndrome as an excuse for avoiding exercise.