The study, which was recently published online in the journal Ailmentary Pharamacology & Therapeutics, found the stress of prolonged, vigorous activity seems to shut down gut function.
That’s not surprising, said the study authors, who say the redistribution of blood away from the gut and toward working muscles creates gut cell injury. This can lead to cell death, leaky gut syndrome and systematic immune response.
They also note that risk of gut injury and impairment went up with exercise intensity. The more strenuous the workout, the more likely it was that gut problems occurred.
Two hours of strenuous seemed to be the tipping point, at 60% maximum intensity – be it cycling, running, or other activities that required similar effort.
For their methodology, the researchers analyzed eight previous studies that looked at this issue, which is called ‘exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome’. Two hours of strenuous seemed to be the tipping point, at 60% maximum intensity – be it cycling, running, or other activities that required similar effort.
Heat stress appeared to be an issue as well.
The most logical explanation for this link is that people with gut diseases may be at higher risk of health problems, the authors said. Doctors that observed the study agree with this, citing that normal blood flow to the GI tract is needed to oxygenate gut cells. In turn, this manages metabolism and keeps gut function in form.
With much less blood during exercise, patients can get gut inflammation and ‘leaky gut’ syndrome, in which gut toxins leak into systematic circulation.
Having said this, exercise is proven to help people with IBS. It helps patients manage weight and reduce obesity. The latter is linked to many GI diseases, including gall bladder disease, fatty liver disease, acid reflux and colon cancer, among others.
Regular exercise, when done moderately, also appears to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
The study authors suggest people with gut problems should drink plenty of water before and possibly eat a small amount of proteins and carbohydrates before and during their workout regimen.
You may also want to rest at various points during your workout and discuss any symptoms with your doctor. The latter is especially important – stomach pain is a sign of a potential issue that should be examined.
One of the most useful exercise tips for people with gut problems is to stay within their comfort zone. Going by this most recent study, that means no more that 60% of your maximum intensity. This applies to you in particular if you have:
Crohn’s Disease – This is an immune system condition characterized by inflammation of the GI tract. Symptoms include bleeding, diarrhea, belly pain and lack of appetite.
Ulcerative Colitis – This is similar to Crohn’s, but it’s limited to the colon. Colitis tends to cause more pain, greater bleeding and worse diarrhea (nice, huh?).
IBS – We’ve written about Irritable Bowel Syndrome extensively here at Natural Health Source. There is no inflammation involved with IBS, though it can make life very unpleasant – it’s a group of digestive symptoms and changes in bowel movements. IBS is constipation, diarrhea, bloating and a quick need to visit a toilet.
Reflux – Acid reflux is when stomach acid escapes through the valve that separates your stomach and esophagus. Think heartburn and swallowing problems, along with that gross taste you get when you throw up in your mouth,
The following exercise tips may help:
Exercise! – This may sound counter-intuitive when you consider what we’ve just discussed, but exercise is essential for people with gut problems because it helps with weight loss and assists in a variety of ways. The key is to keep it moderate. Remember, keep it under 60% intensity if you have gut problems. Take breaks too, and drink plenty of water.
Talk to Others – You’re definitely not the only person on the planet with gut problems. It’s estimated that between 10 to 15% of folks in the US alone have the same issue. Keep an open dialogue with your doctor and speak with others at the gym or where you exercise. What exercise tips do they recommend? How do they cope with stress?
You’ll want to pick your exercises carefully if you have gut problems. As a general rule, anything that puts intense pressure on your core is a no-go, along with ballistic or high intensity exercises, or up and down movements. Those are out – gentle, relaxing exercises can help lower stress and contribute to greater well-being.
You may want to avoid running, ball sports, cross fit and high intensity workouts. Think about these exercises instead: