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A woman doing yoga surrounded by walking shoes, weights, kettle bells and a water bottle

Working Out and IBS

I'm going to start off by saying I'm not someone who has a strict workout regimen.

Cardio and HIIT

However, before getting officially diagnosed with IBS, and even for a bit afterwards, whenever I'd work out, I'd do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) group classes or run on the treadmill. As these are more strenuous activities, I would often find myself taking long trips to the washroom after these exercises, or even having to stop because I wasn't feeling well.

HIIT, being what it is, not only quickened my heart rate, but seemingly stressed out my body enough to trigger my IBS. It doesn't help that I'm terrible at drinking enough water and high-intensity exercises are rapid dehydrators. I didn't even necessarily like doing HIIT classes, but I wanted to ensure I was staying healthy while allowing time for working out, alongside maintaining healthy eating habits.

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Unfortunately, as we know, practicing ways to be healthy does not necessarily mean that IBS flare-ups or symptoms will be minimized. Sometimes, a protein-packed filling salad with a delicious dressing, for instance, is just about the worst thing I can have during an IBS flare-up. Who else has had days where all you can stomach is a pot (or even just a mouthful) of plain rice, at best? My hand is raised.

Yoga and Pilates

A few years ago, I started taking more yoga and Pilates classes. Once I realized that I needed to look to other forms of exercise besides cardio and HIIT to stay active, I started to learn more about Pilates and yoga. I had previously written them off as "lazy" workouts, when that is not the case at all... and I'm sorry that I ever thought this!

Actually, these low-intensity workouts are a lot more enjoyable to me than cardio/HIIT. It probably doesn't hurt that someone isn't yelling at me to get me to run around or lift weights (like how a lot of instructors in charge of HIIT classes will run their classes) and therefore not causing my stress levels to skyrocket.

I've also actively noticed that when I'm bloated, going to yoga, specifically, has been instrumental in helping to minimize the bloating. Yoga as a practice of slow, intentional movement is really beneficial to moving and stretching out your body. It is easy to feel sluggish and fatigued during a flare up and yoga helps to reduce those feelings.

The intent of yoga is also to emotionally work to calm and center you, reducing stress and therefore reducing IBS symptoms. I prefer Pilates over yoga, which is also a great exercise to reduce stress and stretch your body out.

Walking as Exercise

I also just enjoy going for very long walks (as in walking for a few hours). Sometimes, of course, these walks can get cut short for a rush home to the washroom or getting holed up in the public washroom of a fast food restaurant or maybe a mall, if I'm lucky. In that same vein, I'm not one to go hiking or walking in the woods or a large park without being in close distance of a washroom, for obvious reasons.

Question for the group: What are your favourite ways to workout? If any?

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

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