Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

Font Size

Exercise Cuts Irritable Bowel, Other Gut Woes

Active Obese People Have Less Gut Pain, Fewer IBS Symptoms

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 says.

"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 of it."

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.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

filling glass of water from faucet
Prevention strategies to try.
stomach ache
From symptoms to treatments.
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
worried mature woman
Are they related?
IBS Trigger Foods
Supplements for IBS What Works
IBS Symptoms Quiz
digestive health
gluten free diet
digestive myths
what causes diarrhea
top foods for probiotics