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IBS Makes Regular Exercise SO Difficult!

I don’t know about you guys, but it sure has been hard for me to get a handle on my weight lately, especially due to my IBS. When I try to go to the gym regularly and put myself on a strict diet regimen, I always end up falling off at some point because my IBS becomes a huge obstacle after a while. I go through phases when I experience IBS episodes that can last for weeks at a time.

Motivation (or lack thereof) to exercise with IBS

The bloating and gas pain become more than I can tolerate, which diminishes all motivation to leave my home, let alone exercise. As a result of not going to the gym for some time, I start to lose discipline, strength, and my diet falls off as well. Once I get over each torturous episode, I feel like I’m starting right back at square one again on my fitness journey. It’s a vicious cycle that I can’t seem to break no matter how hard I try.

Stress, food triggers, and IBS

Stress and food triggers are the main factors you want to avoid if you have IBS. Avoiding those two things could allow someone with IBS to lead a more productive and satisfying lifestyle. However, the problem is life isn’t set up that way and it’s damn-near impossible to avoid both or even one of those things. For instance, I juggle managing my health, being a stay-at-home dad, and working from home, which can all get to be so stressful for me that it may easily trigger a flare-up.

Also, on occasion, I indulge in food and drinks that may cause a whole lot of pain and torture simply because it’s easier and less stressful not to cook. After enduring all that stress and sometimes making horrible food choices, I end up going through a really bad IBS episode that can last up to a couple of weeks. Then, unfortunately, I can’t help but get discouraged from beginning my regular exercise schedule again because during recovery I would lose all my strength. One way or another, IBS finds a way to become an obstacle for me.

IBS obstacles stacked against me

I can’t help but feel like I’m coming up with so many excuses as to why I can’t get a handle on dieting and working out regularly. Living with a condition that I feel most people don’t take seriously kind of makes me feel not only insecure but also incredible. For instance, when I go to the gym with certain friends, it’s hard for me to go at the same pace as them because too much stress on my body can easily trigger an IBS pain for me that will instantly end my workout.

It’s a reaction I have no control over, yet when it happens my friends try to push me to go harder, not understanding that my pain can exacerbate with added physical or mental stress. I also can’t help but feel guilty for either slowing them down or not being able to catch up. Some could argue that I should just exercise alone, which I’ve done, still, do, and is something I am used to because I actually like going at my own pace. However, after a while, you want some extra motivation and excitement to go to the gym, and that’s when other people come in. I just can’t help that my IBS creates an obstacle for me when trying to better my health.

Can you relate?

Do any of you read this also have trouble with exercising due to your IBS? Or, do you feel it’s a combination of things, but IBS definitely plays a huge role? If so, please comment below and let me know. Thanks for taking the time to read my article and stay positive!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • SLWW
    2 months ago

    I totally understand about having problems exercising & losing weight when you have IBS. I don’t feel like working out for weeks at a time when IBS flares up. I am having problems with fitting into my clothes, & I don’t want to buy a bunch of new clothes at the weight that I am now. Plus, it doesn’t seem to matter what I eat or when! I am still getting bloated & having stomach pain.

  • tmholland moderator
    2 months ago


    I related so much to your post that it was almost as if I could have written it :-). I work out when I can and when I can’t…well, I’m frustrated. I also completely get the clothes thing. I’m sorry you are struggling with the bloating and pain. Hopefully, at some point soon, you will find some relief. I hope you are doing well otherwise. Thank you for sharing. -Todd,

  • Emily
    2 months ago

    I’ve noticed when I go on diets I have more problems with my IBS. My stomach becomes empty and that causes cramping issues. Plus more strenuous the exercise such as walking FAST can cause problems. But if I don’t walk fast enough then I can’t lose weight. And it seems like the less carbs I eat the more problems I have. ‍♀️

  • tmholland moderator
    2 months ago


    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. It seems many people with IBS share your frustration with weight loss and not being able to work out ‘hard’ or ‘fast’ enough. You are doing yourself a service by simply exercising at any pace. Again, thank you and I hope you are having a good day. -Todd, Team

  • Holly5757
    2 months ago

    Exercising at a full, go hard pace will most always give me diarrhea. Slower and steady seems to work better for me.
    My problem seems to be, healthier foods are triggers for me. When I am in a flair up carbs are my go to as my belly tolerates them much easier. When you have flair ups at least once a week that can make it very hard to lose weight. Especially when everyone is shouting that I need to try the new Keto thing. I would LOVE to as so many friends have lost a lot weight in a short time frame with this way of eating. They just do not understand that I cannot live peacefully eating those foods. I guess until there is a cure for IBS I will be the chubby, slow and steady gal.

  • tmholland moderator
    2 months ago


    Slow and steady wins the race :-). I always find it very interesting how all of our experiences with IBS can vary so much. We can only do what works best for US. It sounds like you have a great attitude and keep up the good work. I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

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