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So what kind of exercise is best for someone who has IBS? Although physical activity in general will help, certain activities have been shown to reduce stress levels:
It's always more enjoyable if you can exercise when you're feeling your best. Although it's counterintuitive to think that you should exercise when your IBS symptoms are causing discomfort, a little bit of activity may actually help. Because exercise pumps blood to other parts of the body other than the digestive system, exercise can help relieve digestive distress. Also try to schedule your exercise at least a few hours after your last meal. Before exercising, avoid eating foods you know cause a flare up in your symptoms. It's important to listen to your body, but sometimes when exercising is the last thing you want to do, it's the thing that will help the most!
Yoga reduces stress by encouraging deep, rhythmic breathing. It also promotes relaxation by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to each part of the body. For more information on the benefits of yoga, read Relax Your Mind and Body with Yoga and A Beginner's Guide to Yoga.
Stretching exercises stimulate receptors in the nervous system that decrease the production of stress hormones. In addition, stretching exercises release tension and increase blood flow to the muscles. Not sure where to begin? SparkPeople's Stretching Guide will help you get started!
Pilates connects the mind, body, and spirit, which can help you manage stress more effectively. Its goal is to improve flexibility and strength, creating a balance between the two. Participants gain and develop body awareness through different exercises and stretches, which target specific muscle groups. For more information on Pilates, check out Pass the Pilates, Please and A Skeptic's Guide to Pilates.
Activities that you enjoy. The more you like what you're doing, the greater the chances that you'll stick with it and feel good about exercising!
Regular exercise is going to make you more physically fit and give you a good way to deal with stress. Both of these benefits are helpful when fighting the symptoms of IBS. The better you feel, the less likely it is that IBS will negatively impact your quality of life. So start exercising and start feeling better today!