5 Reasons Why Your Gym Membership May Actually Help Your IBD Symptoms

Did you know that a recent study found that people who exercise regularly have around 35 bad days per year, whereas people who don't exercise regularly experience 18 additional days of feeling negative? The same study found that individuals who are consistently active "felt as good as those who earn $25,000 more a year" according to Business Insider reports. Some of us aren't interested in working out, but the data shows it helps to stay active especially when managing conditions associated with inflammatory bowel disease. 

Research shows that engaging in exercise can lead to fewer symptoms for people with GI tract disorders such as Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis. An article on Healthline.com talks about the benefits of exercise with GI issues and physicians also have their opinions on it.  David Padua, MD, Ph.D. gastroenterologist at UCLA says, "The data is a little bit all over the place, but generally what we have seen is that a moderate amount of exercise is actually really beneficial for someone with inflammatory bowel disease." 

Additionally, people with an inflammatory bowel disease say that exercising has also been shown to help in their remission. In the same article on Healthline.com, Jenna Pettit, an active young adult with Crohn's Disease says, "I would definitely say that exercise helps me in remission. Even before I was diagnosed, I always noticed that my symptoms were less severe when I was working out."

If you have Crohn's disease or Ulcerative Colitis, it's important to speak to your doctor first out if exercise is a realistic option for you. NorthShore does not provide medical advice and is not a replacement for a medical professional. But,  if your gym membership card is sitting in a dark corner of your house, then these reasons might have you consider using it again! 

Benefits of Exercise for People Managing (IBD) Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Decreases flare-ups – Stress tends to trigger inflammation flares from GI conditions. The more you can work out, the lower your stress levels will be which may result in fewer flare-ups. Yoga is an example of a great exercise that helps with both body and mind. The poses help things move in your body and stretches muscles. It also helps calm your mind and brings a sense of peace to your mind. There are also special yoga poses that help with digestion which is an added bonus for people with bowel issues. 

Prevents arthritis in the joints – Inflammation of the sacroiliac joints, known as sacroiliitis, is common with people who have IBD. Low impact workouts such as cycling and swimming are best for these joints. Stretching exercises keep both joints and muscles flexible.

Prevents fatigue- Patients with IBD may feel weak at times, exercise even with low impact training has been proven to improve spells of tiredness. 

Speeds up recovery time – Surgery is often involved in treating Ulcerative Colitis and exercise can help with the recovery process. Working out can help blood circulate better which can prevent blood clots. Something simple like walking gradually can help but again always check with your doctor before starting anything new. 

Improves the quality of life – Regular exercise, especially aerobics, can brighten up your mood by triggering the release of endorphins (the feel-good hormones). But besides the actual hormone release to brighten your mood, regularly working out can lead to better muscle tone and healthy weight management which can make a big difference in the way you feel about yourself.

It may be difficult to get started on a regular exercise program and especially if you are not feeling well. But the benefits will make your efforts worth-while. It takes time to turn a goal into a habit. As always, we recommend speaking with your doctor and discuss before doing anything. 

Listen to your body and if your doctor allows, try switching up your exercises that fit your needs. If you're looking for bowel leakage products to use to manage your Crohn's disease or Ulcerative Colitis we have pads and briefs that can keep you engaged in your workout with all the protection you need.