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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Helped by Exercise




New research suggests that regular exercise can help to relieve symptoms of constipation in irritable bowel syndrome patients.

Specifically, the study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, found that regular exercise may relieve constipation in those who suffer from the condition.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most commonly reported gastrointestinal disorder with some estimates suggesting around 25% of the population in the Western world may suffer to some degree. Patients are often classified depending on whether they mostly experience constipation, diarrhoea, or a combination of the two. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, gas and bloating.

The cause, or causes, of IBS are not fully understood so treatment is mainly aimed at symptom relief.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham and the UK led by Dr. Amanda J. Daley noted that previous studies had noted an improvement in symptoms of constipation and bloating in IBS patients who exercised regularly. They decided to design a study of their own to confirm these observations.

Dr. Daley and colleagues recruited 56 adults (mostly women) with a diagnosis of IBS from their doctor or hospital specialist to participate in a study lasting 12 weeks.

The study participants were randomly selected to receive standard IBS treatment or an exercise program developed by the researchers. The patients assigned to the exercise treatment were given two 40-minute one-on-one exercise consultations designed to provide them with knowledge, confidence and motivation to get them excercising safely and effectively.

The aim of the consultations was to get the IBS patients doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times per week.

In the journal article Dr. Daley and colleagues write that they chose this form of intervention starting with personalised consultations because it has been shown to be an effective way of getting patients exercising more frequently in people suffering from other conditions. They also feel that it can be integrated easily into current IBS treatment regimes.

When the 12 week study period was complete, the patients in the newly developed exercise program reported having exercised significantly more often than those given standard IBS tratment and lifestyle advice. They also reported much greater improvement in the severity of their constipation.

Dr. Daley and colleagues say that the fact that this intervention successfully encouraged IBS patients to exercise more frequently and that this in turn led to symptom improvement is very encouraging. This is particularly notable given that those with IBS often avoid exercise due to their abdominal symptoms.

The researchers conclude that the study highlights the possibility that exercise may be an effective way for people to manage their IBS symptoms, particularly constipation.

Source: International Journal of Sports Medicine


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  • Here you are:

    Daley AJ Grimmett C Roberts L Wilson S Fatek M Roalfe A Singh S (2008) The effects of exercise upon symptoms and quality of life in patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome: a randomised controlled trial International Journal of Sports Medicine 29(9):778-82


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