Can Exercise Help Your IBS Symptoms?

Can Exercise Help Your IBS Symptoms?

Written by Katelyn Collins, RD

People with IBS-C (irritable bowel syndrome with constipation) are often told to drink more water and get more exercise as a first line of treatment. Those with IBS-D (irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea) are sometime told to try yoga to manage their symptoms. While this advice alone may seem dismissive to someone who has been struggling with IBS for years, there may actually be something to it!

Exercise has been shown to have positive long-term effects on the physical and psychological symptoms of IBS. Exercise is also recommended as part of a successful IBS treatment plan (see studies here and here). If you are just starting a low FODMAP diet for your IBS, you should consider speaking to your healthcare provider about adding in exercise to help support your success.

While there are no specific recommendations on the type of exercise you should do, participating in a mixture of aerobic activity and strength training is the best way to improve your overall health and fitness. Meditation, yoga, and other relaxation-based practices may also help improve symptoms.

Not sure where to begin? Here are some tips to help you make a plan and stick to it!

Ease into it

If you are already on a low FODMAP diet, you may feel like you have lost some control over your life and the last thing you want to do is follow more rules. Instead of jumping into a six days per week workout plan, try starting with one or two days per week.

What do you like to do?

The best exercise plan is one that you will consistently follow. If you despise running, don’t run. An aerobic workout can take on many forms. You can dance, swim, bike, power walk, or even cartwheel! If you do what you love, you will look forward to exercising!

Strength training

Many studies show how beneficial strength training can be for health and fitness. If you are not a gym member, there are a variety of online resources that only require dumbbells. If you do have access to a gym, be sure to take advantage of any classes or free personal training sessions so you can learn proper form and avoid injuries.

The 10 minute workout

No, this is not an advertisement for a misleading fitness product! Instead of exercising two times a week for 30 minutes a day, try exercising everyday for 10 minutes. This is a great approach for busy people. It’s also fantastic for someone who wants a lot of variety. You can do ten minutes of yoga on Monday, power walking on Tuesday, strength training on Wednesday, etc.

Exercise is another helpful tool to add to your IBS management toolbox. It’s a great addition to the low FODMAP diet and has been shown to help with IBS symptoms. While it may seem daunting at first, easing into an exercise routine that you enjoy is a wonderful way to support your gut and your wellbeing!

Katelyn Collins, RD is a US-based registered dietitian specializing in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and integrative nutrition. She is passionate about serving the IBS community and works with clients one-on-one through her virtual nutrition practice. She also shares fun and informative digestive health content on her Instagram account, @katelyn.collinsRD. If you’re looking for low FODMAP snack ideas, you can download Katelyn’s Low FODMAP Snack List here!


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