Exercise Cuts Irritable Bowel, Other Gut Woes
Active Obese People Have Less Gut Pain, Fewer IBS Symptoms
WebMD News Archive
What You Do Affects How You Feel continued...
"Activity in general will increase the activity of the gastrointestinal
tract," Affronti tells WebMD. "After abdominal surgery, for example,
active people regain function more quickly than sedentary people."
But does exercise really make irritable bowels less irritable -- or does it
just make people feel better? It's hard to tell from the Levy study, Affronti
"For people with abdominal pain, one thing is the pain and the other is
the perception of how severe it is," he tells WebMD. "That
psychological component is driven by a lot of things. I wonder if people who do
all these things to get a better lifestyle might want to see good things come
If that's so, it doesn't matter, says Levy, a licensed psychologist and
social worker who sees many patients with gastrointestinal symptoms and
irritable bowel syndrome. If patients report fewer symptoms, it means patients
feel better. And feeling better is a key to getting better.
"Sometimes people label their symptoms in ways that are
maladaptive," Levy says. "So if they have some symptom such as pain or
gas they may catastrophize and think, 'Oh, I may have cancer,' or, 'There is
something wrong with me.' That can make people restrict their lives more and
more. It can become a downward spiral."
Part of getting patients over this, she says, is encouraging patients to eat
appropriately and exercise daily. Other treatments for IBS include watching
your diet by avoiding gas-producing foods and adding fiber to your diet for
control of diarrhea or constipation. Stress relaxation techniques may also help
you control stressful situations that may trigger the condition.
Levy is now studying treatments for children and teens who suffer recurring
abdominal pain. Seattle-area parents interested in the NIH-funded study -- in
which children receive free treatment -- may call (206) 616-2358.