Can exercise help with IBS symptoms?

Yoga for IBS management

It can feel worrying at time for people with IBS to know what can help and what can aggravate IBS symptoms. Physical activity is so beneficial to our bodies to improve overall health and fitness, sleep, stress and energy levels. For people with IBS research has shown that exercise can help with symptom management.

Benefits of exercising for IBS management

Exercise is one strategy you can implement to help with managing your IBS symptoms for the long term. Studies have shown that benefits may include:

  • Reduced bloating and distension as exercise can aid in improving gas and bowel transit through the body
  • Decreased stress levels which can lead to an improvement in IBS symptoms
  • Improved energy levels with long term exercise
  • Increase in positive attitudes towards IBS and management

Recommended exercises

When it comes to managing your own IBS symptoms, most exercise is suitable. If you are new to managing your IBS symptoms or having a particularly hard time at the moment, start with some lighter exercise options including:

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Pilates

When you want to introduce some higher intensity workouts such as running, weights or cardio sessions, a good place to begin is by introducing these sessions slowly such as 1 – 2 times per weeks. Some extremely intense exercise such as running a marathon or triathlon can increase the physical stress on the body and gastrointestinal system. In this case, it is best to build up to this level of activity and may be worth considering working with a fitness or health professional to help with this goal.

Additionally, listening and being kind to your body is key. Some days you might be able to smash out a great weight session or run, and other days yoga or walking may seem impossible. Just take it one day at a time. If you’re finding symptom management tough at the moment take a look at some other suggestions that can help with managing an IBS flare up.

Do you find exercise helpful for managing your IBS symptoms? Let us know your favourite ways to include physical activity in the comments below.

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