When the physical body is expressing itself to you through gastrointestinal symptoms, exercise may be the last activity on your mind. You probably don’t want to be far from the bathroom or doing anything to exacerbate your symptoms right? It is understandable to believe that exercise may not be of benefit to you, however, the opposite is true.

Studies have shown that people living with IBS who exercise regularly have decreased frequency and intensity of symptoms. What an incentive!

Movement and exercise is beneficial for everyone, keeping our bodies young, supple and strong. Increased fitness builds the body to be resilient and healthy, which improves your body’s ability to cope with symptoms of IBS.

See if you can aim to exercise 3-5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes. If this is a new activity for you, be gentle on yourself and build this up over a few weeks. Why not start doing 5 or 10 minutes of daily exercise in the first week, then increase to 20 minutes the second week and then to 30 minutes the following week until you have reached your desired time.

The simplest and most cost effective exercise is walking. No need to buy equipment, no memberships and it can be done anywhere in the world.

Lets look at some exercise options:

Walking – if you feel more comfortable being close to home, do exactly that. Walk a block or two around your home so you are never more than a few minutes away. Once your fitness increases and your symptoms decrease, you can be free to walk anywhere.

Cycling – a pushbike can be relaxing, just gliding along with the breeze in your hair. Again, you have the option of cycling around the block or maybe even down to your local park or water where facilities are available.

Pilates and Yoga – both of these can be practiced at your own pace and level. Classes are offered almost everywhere, or you may choose to buy a good quality DVD and do the exercises in the comfort of your own home. Yoga and Pilates emphasise strengthening the core stabilising muscles that are close to your stomach and bowel. You may choose to start these exercises gently to allow your body time to adjust.

Gym – Gyms these days have so many classes and types of equipment available to keep you not only fit, but also entertained. And if you are worried about needing the bathroom, gyms certainly provide well-equipped facilities.