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September 16, 2017

Using Exercise to Manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome

If you live with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you may have heard that exercise can help you manage symptoms and flare-ups. If you have ever picked up a fitness magazine, you know that “exercise” includes a myriad of different categories, and when it comes to treating IBS, not all exercises are created equal. So, if you want to try exercise to alleviate your symptoms, what do you do? Fear not! We have put together this handy Do and Don’t guide to help you find the right workout to conquer your attacks.

DO Jump in the Pool!

Those with IBS know that high impact activity could mean trouble. Swimming is a gentle exercise that burns lots of calories. Swimming allows you to stretch out your muscles and can help reduce bloating.

DON’T Try Intense Running during a Flare-Up

vFast running with a lot of up-and-down movement can lead to cramping, gas, and diarrhea. If you normally love to run, begin with a slow jog. If after 10 minutes you feel comfortable kicking it up a notch, try to work up to a faster pace gradually – paying attention to what your belly is telling you.

DO Think twice before hitting the CrossFit Box

By now, you have probably heard about the workout craze, CrossFit. Magazines, celebrity trainers, and Tyler from your office cannot seem to stop touting the workout as cure-all miracle of health science. However, if you suffer from IBS, you may want to put the protein shake down and skip the box. Workouts such as CrossFit involve activities like lifting heavy weights at a rapid pace, which can upset your digestive system; remember, you can’t see your gains if you’re bloated and doubled over in pain!

Of course, Strength training has been shown time and again to offer tons of benefits, and when your digestive system is feeling steady, grab your sweatband, pick up a kettlebell, and step up your daily workout! However, if you are dealing with a flare-up, consider weight training at your own pace.

DO Look for Exercises that Promote Stretching and Meditation

If you are someone who prefers high-intensity interval training as opposed to more calming methods of exercise, know that you can benefit from gentler physical and mental workouts during a flare-up. Yoga and Tai Chi provide great opportunities to stretch every muscle in your body and meditate. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you know that physical and mental relaxation is key to management.

Of course, just like exercises are not created equal, neither are cases of IBS. Only you know your own limits and what your body can take when symptoms appear. We aim to help our readers lead a happy and healthy lifestyle in the face of GI challenges. If you experience success with a workout that is not listed above, we would love to hear about it! Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any intense exercise program.