IBS—irritable bowel syndrome affects the large intestine and has symptoms that include cramping, bloating, excessive gas, either constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain and sometimes fecal incontinence. While the symptoms come and go, when you do have a flair up, it can be unexpected and last for hours, days, or even months. While making lifestyle changes can help, such as getting regular exercise or eating healthier, it’s not always easy. Sometimes, just going to a gym can create anxiety that brings on an attack.
Exercise can work both ways.
Most common triggers for IBS are in the category of food. In fact food may account for as much as 60% of the problem. Sometimes it occurs with an intolerance, such as lactose or gluten intolerance, other ties it’s a specific type of food, like spicy or sugary food. Hormonal changes, some medications, a GI infection or even emotional stress can also cause an attack. Even though exercise isn’t normally a trigger, it may be if it’s prolonged and intense. However, mild to moderate activity may actually help.
Get stress relief from exercise and maybe relief from IBS symptoms.
If stress is a trigger for IBS and exercise relieves stress, it only makes sense that in that particular case, it would be beneficial for people with IBS. In one study, it was found that people who exercised decreased the severity of their symptoms, compared to those who didn’t. Another study found that people who were less active tended to be more likely to have IBS. One of the reasons for the benefit was stress relief. Another was improved sleep, since poor sleep habits can trigger a flare-up. Exercise also helped clear the body of gas and bloating, while aiding in bowel movements that prevented constipation.
A program of mild exercise can help.
If you haven’t exercised at all, start with something simple. Make it a point to walk for ten minutes three time a day, or once a day for a half hour. Walking is low impact and can be done almost anywhere. It reduces stress and is low impact. Bicycling, swimming, low impact aerobics, bodyweight workouts and stretching can help.
- Some yoga poses are particularly good for IBS, such as the bridge, which is also a traditional bodyweight exercise. Lay on your back, knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift the hips off the floor to form a diagonal with your body. Hold, then lower.
- In the same starting position as the bridge, extend your arms out, perpendicular to the body. Bring your knees toward your chest, then lower them first to the left as you turn your head to the right. Then go in the other direction.
- Use breathing techniques to help you relax. Diaphragm breathing is one potential, so is alternate nostril breathing. Other breathing techniques that relax include inhaling deeply through the nose, holding and exhaling deeply through the mouth.
- Just get moving. If you’re sitting too long, it can also trigger attacks. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up every 55 minutes and move for five minutes. Lack of movement can cause the process of food passing through the intestines to slow, creating bloating.
For more information, contact us today at Prime Fitness Studio