IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), is a common health challenge for those with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, ME/CFS, autoimmune issues, and more. If you’ve received this diagnosis from your MD, here are the likely prescribed remedies: anti-depressants, anti-spasmodics, and high-fiber supplements. Notice that ALL three are pills or something to swallow? Do you think we could we be missing anything else?
IBS, after all, is a symptom. It’s a clue. Okay, it happens to be a really big, cannot-be-ignored clue, but it is just a clue. As an attention-getter, the symptoms of IBS are our body’s way of letting us know that things are out of balance.
The symptoms of IBS point to imbalances in these three key areas:
* Nutrition (typically food sensitivities leading to leaky gut and inflammation, etc.),
* Hormone dysregulation, and
* Stress management
Of course, there are other factors, too, but they all weave in and out of the fundamental factors listed above. Defining the above begs the next question. What has a positive impact on all three of these factors?
Some smarty pants Swedes found the answer.
A small Swedish study reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology their excitement to find that exercise (basic fitness) has a significant impact on the symptom severity score of their IBS participants.
Studies had already shown that fitness routines have a positive impact on fibromyalgia and depression, but the specific connection to IBS was new. In the study mentioned, participants exercised 3 times per week for about 20 to 30 minutes. They moderately walked, cycled, swam, or jogged.
These were their exciting findings; Improved colon health (fewer spasms and improved motility), reduced gas (yay!), and improved transit time (the cycle of metabolizing foods and eliminating wastes). What does this really mean?
Fitness participants reported a decrease
in the severity of their IBS symptoms
and an improved quality of life.
That’s something to rave about!
Additionally, they reported feeling happier,
sleeping better, and
enjoying social activities more.
Sounds good, eh?
Of course, this comes as no surprise to any of us who’ve laced up our walking shoes and made fitness a part of our regular healthy ritual. Even better, we understand that moving our bodies in a gentle and supportive way has lasting results. We know that it helps IBS and SO MUCH MORE.
This study barely scratched the surface when it comes to the emotional and stress management benefits that can be experienced with a healthy fitness routine. Moving regularly helps the body to metabolize our foods, regulate our hormones, and deal with stress.
Wait, do these factors sound familiar? I hope so. They were just outlined a few paragraphs ago. It’s no wonder that fitness is so effective … it addresses the very foundational imbalances that contribute to IBS. Here’s where to start:
Fitness and improved nutrition
make the perfect healing partners!
It’s interesting to note that in the study detailed above, there were many physical improvements, but belly bloat was not one of them. It’s a tougher nut to crack. It takes some long-term strategies – along with fitness – to tackle this issue.
But there are ways to beat it! If you’d like more info on this specific topic, check out Three Remedies to Blast Belly Bloat here!
Have you found fitness (working out to whatever level works for you) improves your IBS symptoms? Please share your tips and experiences below!
Thank you Sue for all the information you pass onto us. I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and of course ibs. I walk every day, water exercises (suggested by rheumatologist) and try to eat right. I definitely can work on the eating right better. My biggest problem with my ibs is stress. It’s been a ‘when it rains, it pours kind of life’.
Jenny – thanks so much for sharing your valuable input. Stress is a huge factor in dealing with fibromyalgia. That’s why I teach an entire course on the topic. What kind of relaxation techniques do you incorporate regularly? That term “regularly” is key, by the way 😉 Keep up the good work!
I’d love to say this is a definite, but my IBS symptoms have gotten worse even as I’ve continued to exercise regularly (and even with increased exercise). The first year after I made drastic improvements to my diet things improved greatly initially for about 8 months. Then about 8 months in as I started exercising more I starting having more stomach and abdominal pains. Since then it’s just continued and things have gotten worse and worse as I’ve gone from just the gut pain to now being unable to eat almost all fruits and veggies without massive bloating, pain, and gas.
Julie — I’d love to talk to you. It sounds like something else is going on? Please email me on my site and we can set up a time to chat or email. 😉
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