Best Irritable Bowel Syndrome Physical Exercise

Written by: Meenakshi Joshi – M. Sc (Applied Behavioural Analysis)

Last updated date : March 05, 2023

Do you have cramping and pain when you have spicy food? Have you felt bloated or gas when stressed? Are you finding it tough to manage these symptoms? Can physical exercise like yoga help to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? How can you deal with IBS and live a healthy and good life?

“Quick online learning, thanks!” Susan

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6-Weeks Self-Paced

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  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
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Chapter 1:

What Is IBS?

IBS affects our bowel movements. It affects the large intestine. You have a group of symptoms that might occur together and for a long time.

  • pain in the stomach
  • cramping
  • feeling bloated
  • feeling like you have gas built up in the stomach
  • diarrhea
  • constipated

You can have changes in the number of times you have bowel movements or it may look different as well. Additionally, these signs can last for a long time. They may come and go. For example, you might stop feeling bloated after you have a bowel movement but the condition is still there. Also, if you do some physical exercise, your symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome might reduce.

Chapter 2:

Why Does Physical Exercise Help?

You will see that exercise is a good solution for many of our problems. The main reason why exercise is good for us is that it helps us to feel good. Because when you exercise, your mood gets better and you feel happy.
  • At the basic level, when you exercise, there are some hormones and chemicals that are released in the body. These chemicals give you a rush and help to make your mood better.
  • Also, when you exercise, you move away from your problems. You may actually go out of your house to the gym or fitness centre. This might provide you with the much-needed break and change in environment to overcome your issues.
  • Moreover, you get distracted when you exercise. You shift your focus to your workout and stop thinking about the stressful things which are bothering you.
  • Additionally, if you are exercising at a fitness centre or in a group, for example, Zumba class or pilates, you will get to meet people. Talking to them might help you feel better. Also, you might get the chance to socialise and engage in something that makes you happy and is fun to do.

Chapter 3:

Does Physical Exercise Help in Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

In IBS, there is a connection between the brain and the gut. Because our mind and body are related to each other and influence each other, we see that anything that makes our mood better can help in healing the body as well. Engaging in physical exercise can help reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. When you exercise, the happy hormones secreted in the brain give positive signals to the body. You start feeling better and your symptoms also reduce. When you exercise, you will experience the following benefits.
  • Pain reduction – You will feel much better when you exercise. The pain that you might have goes down. Body movement can reduce any stiffness or ache you may have.
  • Increased bowel movement – Exercises that give pressure on your stomach can quickly make you have a bowel movement. This might give you temporary relief from IBS.
  • Reduce bloating – If you have bloating, exercise can help you take care of it. You can get rid of the gas that seems to have built up in your stomach.
  • Increased activity can help you sleep better – Due to IBS, sleep gets disturbed. When you exercise, you tire yourself out and this can help you get good rest.

The Best Exercise for IBS

The Best exercise for IBS is the one that you
  • can do daily
  • enjoy doing
  • can do it easily
  • can do it on your own

The biggest issue with exercise is that we tend to skip it! Most people do not enjoy or like to exercise. They do it because they have to. They know that exercise will help them lead a healthy and better life. Also, their doctor or spouse is making them do it. So, we are not consistent and regular.

Select an exercise that you like and can do every day. So, select something that you can do easily, that you do not need to make extra efforts to do. If you feel you cannot do it alone, find a class or group which you can join.

Yoga for Irritable Bowel Syndrome​

Yoga is a good way to exercise without straining too much. It can help is digestion as well. You can start with gentle stretching and some easy yoga poses. You can join a class or take an online class to learn yoga. Many videos are available that can guide you.

Yoga provides the physical exercise required for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Additionally, it works on your breathing and relaxation as well. You can learn to control your breathing. It also helps to be fully present in the moment. You can practice mindfulness through yoga.

Some poses are more helpful than others. For example, the bridge pose is where you lie on your back and bend your knees. You lift your abdomen, hips, and butt by pressing down on the floor with your palm. You hold the position for a few seconds or for as long as you can.

If you are working on your breathing, then you can try some exercises like alternate nostril breathing. In this, you close your right nostril with your thumb and you breathe (inhale) with your left nostril. Next, you close your left nostril with your index finger and exhale through your right nostril.

IBS and Walking​

Just like yoga is a good form of physical exercise for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, walking is also very effective. Also, walking is the most easy exercise to do.

You can talk a walk as a part of your routine. During your lunch break or while returning home from work, try to walk (if possible). In fact, whenever you can walk instead of using a vehicle, try to do it. Traditionally, people used to walk after having a meal. This helped in digestion and also to deal with bloating or constipation.

You can make walking fun too! Weekend hikes or listening to your favourite songs while walking can make the routine quite enjoyable.

Other Helpful Forms of Exercise​

  • Tai Chi – It helps to control breathing as well.
  • Cycling – Leisure or fun cycling can be helpful.
  • Swimming – Slow-paced swimming can relax the body and the mind. It can be very refreshing as well.
  • Aerobics – Try aerobics but with care. Do not overdo.
  • Dancing – This is one fun way to exercise. You can select what type of dance you want to learn or engage in. Form or join a group to make it even more fun!
  • Weight training – You can do some simple and low-intensity weight training. Do not try to work with heavy weights or machines that might put a lot of stress on your body.

Chapter 4:

Worst Physical Exercise for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Gentle forms of physical exercise like yoga, walking, etc. are good for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. High-intensity or high-pressure exercises are not so good. Also, when you start any form of exercise, start slowly. Take care to not exert yourself. You can slowly increase the level as your body gets used to physical movement. It means that you need to build your strength and stamina.

You need to avoid any physical movement that can flare up your IBS or make your symptoms worse. High-intensity exercises include

  • Competitive or very fast cycling/swimming
  • Sports like rugby, wrestling
  • Cross-fit
  • Gym workouts that include lifting heavy weights
  • Activities like rock climbing
In conclusion, physical exercise is a must to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Be careful while selecting what type of exercise you will do. Select what you can do daily and what you enjoy. The key is the be consistent. Moderation is the best way. Gentle forms of exercise like yoga, walking, dancing, etc. are most helpful. Do not engage in heavy forms of exercise.

"Quick online learning, thanks!" Susan

92 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount