Community Exercise Tips
Motivation can be a major factor when it comes to routine exercise, especially when you live with IBS. Too much exercise (or not enough) can have a profound effect on daily life.
Knowing this, we asked the Facebook community: “Fill in the blank: Exercise isn’t easy with IBS, but when I have the motivation I choose to _______.”
Researchers recruited 101 university students with IBS for the study. They were given a pedometer to measure their daily step count. At the end of the study, the researchers found that when those people increased their daily step count from 4,000 steps to 9,500 steps, they experienced a 50 percent reduction in the severity of their IBS symptoms.1
We decided to look back at some of our articles written about exercise by and for people living with IBS. If walking isn’t your favorite, maybe these articles will spark some new ideas for your new daily routine.
Yoga for IBS-C
Longtime advocate, Becky, wrote “IBS-C? Try Some Yoga Poses to Help Unclog Those Pipes,” in 2016. In this article, she shares specific poses and how to do them in your own home.
“There are certain yoga asanas, or postures, that are especially effective for easing constipation by stimulating blood flow and moving energy to your digestive system and its many muscles. These actions stimulate peristalsis, helping your stools move more freely through the intestines. Plus, when you’re more relaxed, you’re less likely to strain or have unwanted tension in the bowels,” she wrote.
Swimming for bloating
“The gentle movement of swimming, combined with the healing resistance and weightlessness of water, is extremely helpful to your body. Not only can swimming help calm the pain we might feel from bloating and cramping, but it can also help you maintain regular intestinal movement,” she wrote.
She cites research along with her personal experiences with swimming and how it helped her IBS and mental health.
“I find exercising to help with two very important things to an IBS sufferer, which are stress levels and constipation. We all know that stress and constipation can both trigger each other due to the brain-gut connection, so it’s vital that we do whatever it takes to manage these symptoms and exercising is one of the best ways for me to do that,” he wrote.
Spinning or cycling
When Ally discovered spin classes, she immediately fell in love with the workout. The article, “Spinning My Way Into Better IBS Shape,” describes how she found spinning to be her preferred exercise.
“If your stomach is really acting up during a class, you can skip the abdominal portion, so as not to upset your stomach even more. You can customize the workout by sitting down when the instructor is standing, which I really enjoy. Spin classes are all about listening to your body, and I think that’s why I love them so much,” she wrote.
When Laura found out she also had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, she had to change up her exercise routine. Yoga was no longer ideal, but she wanted to do something besides walking.
“Tai chi is more about gentle movements that increase flow and balance in the body, as opposed to stretching and strengthening (though it can help subtly strengthen the body as well when done correctly and consistently). Additionally, tai chi also boosts mindfulness and has a meditative quality that can lessen stress and ease anxiety (both potent contributors to IBS symptoms),” she wrote.
You can learn more about her experiences in her article, “Tai Chi for IBS.”
Exercising can be difficult with IBS
We recognize that not everyone finds joy in sweating through cardio, feeling the burn of cycling, or keeping up with a routine if results aren’t optimal. We hear you, we see you, and we still want you to know that moving (even if it’s "just" walking) is an accomplishment!
What are your favorite exercise routines? Have you recently stopped working out and you’re trying to find motivation? Let us know in the comments below.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?