Exercise benefits those with IBD!

Exercise benefits those with IBD!

Exercise can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life!

Sydney Taylor-Klaus

She is interning with Nutrition4IBD and Nutrition4Kids until starting medical school in 2023 ...

Staying active and exercising provides lots of benefits for most people, with even more advantages for those with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). Recent research in IBD suggest physical activity can:

  • Help avoid relapse and maintain remission 
  • Prevent onset in high-risk patients
  • Improve overall health
  • Improve quality of life
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Lessen depression and anxiety

How this works

Your brain sends messages, or signals, all over your body, some of which can cause inflammation and some can reduce it. In IBD, there is an imbalance in the inflammation signals. Exercise can increase the anti-inflammation signals from your brain while decreasing the inflammatory ones resulting in a marked improvement in your body's inflammatory markers.

Different ways to stay active

Your muscles use energy when they move—that's physical activity. Exercise is a planned, structured, and sometimes repeated form of physical activity.

Staying active can look different for everyone so here are some suggestions of ways to stay active in general and through exercise. (Don't forget to stay hydrated.) This table includes examples of exercises that improves the quality of life for those with IBD, according to research studies.

Low-intensity walking30 minutes 3 times a week
Yoga Postures and meditation1 hour daily
Yoga90 minutes once a week
Running3 times per week
Weight/Strength Training2-3 times per week
Moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT)3 times per week
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)3 times per week

But you should also know, there are many other ways to stay active. Here are some ideas. (Please email us with others that you use)

  • Take the stairs: when possible, use the stairs if you are going up one floor or down two.
  • Take walking breaks: get up and walk around the room once when you are switching to a new task. This can keep blood flowing and help maintain focus.
  • Get outside: after work or school try to spend some time outside. Or step outside during lunch break or recess.

Tips on how to get started and continue making physical activity a part of your life

Starting a new routine can sometimes feel overwhelming so pick what is right for you.

  • Set a S.M.A.R.T. goal — Make a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and has a Time-frame
  • Start out slow and be patient with yourself! Habits don't start overnight
    • If your goal is to run 30min 3 times a week, start out with 5-10 min then increase when it feels manageable
  • Schedule when you will be working out and set reminders at so you don't forget
    • Pull out clothes the night before a morning workout
    • Set alarms
  • Enjoy what you are doing
    • Identify what you liked or what feels good
    • Set up a reward system if needed
  • Stay motivated by making your workout specific to you
    • Want a challenge, keep track of your personal best and try to beat it
    • If you like survival programs, download an app that sounds like zombies are chasing you turning your run into a race for your life
    • Do you want structure or socializing, sign up for an exercise class or recreational sports team
    • If you like games, get in touch with your inner child and create a game for yourself or your friends/family

Bottom Line

Physical activity is helpful for those with IBD. It can help prevent the onset of IBD and its symptoms and improve the quality of your life.

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