A slew of questions arise when you are diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disorder such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome. One question might be, can I continue my exercise routine?
Mostly likely your health care practitioner will give you a resounding “yes” and, hopefully, will suggest physical activities that will fit your lifestyle even when you have a chronic bowel disorder.
GI disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (the two main inflammatory bowel diseases) and irritable bowel syndrome can prompt worries about “accidents” before you can reach a bathroom. In addition, a bad day with your condition can mean diarrhea, constipation or a combination. It can also mean abdominal cramps and pain, rectal bleeding, bloating and fatigue.
But those challenges can be overcome with the right treatments and therapies, paving the way for the many positive aspects of exercise.
A feature on WebMD shares a number of interviews with medical and exercise experts who list these benefits of physical activity, even when you think a GI disorder excuses you:
-- Exercise helps you maintain a normal body weight and aids digestion.
-- It can induce feelings of well-being and help control stress, which is important when you consider the mind-gut connection: the brain registers anxiety or stress, and the gut often responds with an upset stomach.
-- Many physical activities incorporate breathing exercises and thus can instill calm and clarity in instances when you feel overwhelmed by your GI disorder.
The American Council on Exercise recommends low-impact activities such as yoga, tai chi and Pilates because they don’t involve a lot of jarring movement, they strengthen the pelvic floor, and they incorporate rhythmic breathing. The Council also endorses treadmills but prefers walking at an incline for a good workout instead of running.
Doctors interviewed by WebMD cautioned against pushing yourself too hard when you are having an off day. Sometimes medications for GI disorders drain your energy, and that might be a sign to put off exercise until you feel better.