In this article, I want to walk you all through my method of beginning another health/fitness journey. 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. Although I have exercised at extreme levels before, I haven’t done any kind of intense physical activity in months. With that lost time and gain of a few unwanted pounds, I plan to create a strategy for myself where I can primarily get into the habit of going to the gym and/or scheduling time for exercising, and then focus on the progression of my work outs. I understand how daunting the cycle of the on-and-off relationship with the gym can be, which is why I find it important not to discourage myself so soon. So, for the first few weeks, I will follow a certain regimen that doesn’t require much intense physical work, but instead, focuses on habit-development and doing exercises that help with bowel movements.
Here is my new exercise regimen:
3 sets of 10 reps of squats for three days a week.
This exercise is great for leg and core strengthening, but I also find it effective for constipation relief. Sometimes when I have trouble with a bowel movement, I will do at least three sets of ten squats to help get me going. From time to time, I also have pain in my knees and lower back, and doing this exercise trains these body parts to be able to withstand heavy lifting and/or uncomfortable positions (for example, sitting on the toilet for an hour). Although I dread working out my legs sometimes, I must say that I do appreciate this exercise simply because it overall helps me feel more agile.
3 sets of reclining abdominal twists for 15 seconds or less, at least three days a week.
I use this exercise strictly for lower back strengthening. Making my back stronger is important for me because I tend to have horrible posture while sitting on the toilet, or sitting down period, which then leads to severe lower back pain. Unfortunately, because of this pain, I don’t get very good sleep either. All it takes for me is a few sets of this exercise to give my back a nice stretch and some (eventual) relief.
30 minutes of walking or intermittent light jogging for three days a week.
Cardio is great for many things involving health. It is known to help with regulating blood pressure, maintaining weight, stress reduction, and getting better sleep. Personally, I have always found cardio to be a great stress-reliever. There’s something about being ‘zoned out’ with my headphones on while playing just the right music and getting a good sweat. It also helps that I’m so worn out by the time I get home I’ll be able to go fall asleep quicker. Doing this exercise will not only help me manage stress, but it will also help me with my weight, which I am definitely looking forward to.
3 sets of 15 reps of push-ups for three days a week.
Push-ups is a great exercise for upper body and core strength, and I find it really effective for constipation relief as well. A few sets of push-ups help get me going to the bathroom every time. Since push-ups help with your core, it trains the muscles in your stomach to contract on demand, which in turn, helps lessen the strain of bowel movements.
15 minute sessions every day
Stress and anxiety are a couple of the main triggers for some IBS sufferers, and meditating is a great way to manage them. There are many ways to meditate, but the way most people practice it is by sitting (or lying) in a comfortable position and focusing on your breathing. Meditating is not easy, especially for beginners, because it involves training the mind to be quiet, which can be very hard for someone like myself who suffers from extreme anxiety. However, consistency will lead to improvement, and having peace of mind is essential.
Overtime, once I have developed the habit of going to the gym and/or having a set schedule for exercising, then I will increase the number of sets and reps. As an IBS sufferer, I realize that exercise in any form (for example, like dancing or hiking) is necessary if I want to better control my symptoms. I am committed to my health journey and I hope whoever is reading this is inspired to start theirs too. Let’s try and take control of our chronic condition together!