Staying fit can ward off symptoms

It is estimated that irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, affects one and 54 people. 

It is characterized by chronic diarrhea, profound gastrointestinal pain and discomfort in conjunction with a myriad of other symptoms. It can be a most disabling disease.

But new research published in this month’s American Journal of Gastroenterology may hold some degree of optimism for those suffering from this all-consuming disease.

It was established in this study that individuals who are suffering from IBS may be able to achieve a degree of relief by establishing a regular exercise program. 

Though the study is considered small—involving 102 participants—it found that individuals who exercise regularly had a significant decrease in their cramping, bloating, constipation and diarrhea with overall stated improvement in their quality of life.

The senior researcher, Dr. Riadh Sadik at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that even people who are considered less than active had an alleviation of symptoms with an introduction of even a modest degree of exercise. 

Exercise was defined as 20 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, like brisk walking or biking three to five times per week. This was done over a course of 12 weeks. 

None of the participants were previously regularly active at the beginning of the study. All other normal lifestyle habits remain the same.

Three months after the study, 43 per cent of the exercise participants showed an improvement of the symptoms compared to those who did not exercise. 

Only eight per cent of the exercise participants had an increase in their perceived symptoms verses 23 per cent of the non-exercise population. 

It was therefore postulated that those who suffer from IBS will worsen their symptoms by maintaining a sedentary lifestyle. 

He states: “If you have IBS, then you can increase your physical activity to improve your symptoms. If you stay inactive, you should expect more symptoms.”  

This is yet again another glaring illustration of the far-reaching effects of exercise. 

Not only does exercise increase whole body wellness and strength but it can also get your body back to its normal state.

A chronic state of pain is not the normal state for the body, it is merely an indication that something is wrong.

This is really no different than your temperature gauge going off on your dashboard telling you that it needs attention. 

In fact, when the red light starts flashing our top priority is to get our vehicle to someone who is going to fix it. 

Should our body be any different? If we take care of our body it will take care of us.

Markus Thiel is a

Kelowna doctor of



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