Can walking help to relive IBS symptoms?

At least one in three people will experience the uncomfortable symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) at some point in their life, the most common condition affecting the gut. Common symptoms of which include bloating, abdominal pain and alterations to bowel habit.

While all you may feel like doing is curling up in bed when feeling the full effects of your IBS, new research suggests that simply just going for a walk can do wonders to relieve IBS symptoms.

Walking, perhaps the easiest form of exercises, has been shown to drastically reduce the severity of IBS. Walking can help in two distinct ways; first, while I may be uncomfortable at first, getting your body moving helps ease digestion, secondly walking enables relaxation and mindful practice to reduce stress and anxiety, which in turn can worsen symptoms of IBS.

It’s well known that there is an intrinsic link between stress and the severity of IBS. Therefore, it’s not hard to see how the stress-reducing effect of exercise could diminish your cumbersome gut symptoms. While a good IBS-fighting diet, full of easily digestible foods can ease symptoms, severe onset stress can often disrupt even the best of diets.

Research from the University of Southampton, King’s College London and King’s College Hospital considered the effect of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in addition to usual treatments to help relieve IBS symptoms. They concluded that when CBT was used in addition to usual treatments, there was a clinical and statistical improvement in the IBS symptoms and impact on general life and mood.


Walking to relieve IBS symptoms

Researchers from Saitama Prefectural University in Japan conducted research on university students and concluded that those who took more daily steps had a reduction in the severity of IBS symptoms. The number of steps correlated with the student’s assessment of minor and moderately severe discomfort

The researchers suggest: “Based on our findings, increasing the daily step count to 9,500 steps from 4,000 steps will result in a 50% reduction in the severity of symptoms.”

They explained that the increase in walking helps to disband intestinal gas and reduce bloating, and that at least 30-minutes of walking is recommended to increase colon transportation time for adults suffering from constipation.


5 Easy Ways to Get 10,000 Steps Into Your Day

Now you know how walking could help to potentially reduce the severity of your IBS symptoms, let’s look at some easy ways to get those steps in.

  • Walk around the house – A good idea is to walk around while brushing your teeth or while you’re on the phone to get some easy steps in.
  • Take the stairs – ditch the lift and take the stairs to add more steps into your day
  • Work standing up – now most of us are working from home, make yourself a makeshift standing desk and walk on the spot while replying to your emails.
  • Take a walk – Put some headphones on, grab your other half or set a destination. A brainstorming afternoon walk will do your bowels and your head a world of wonders.
  • Do an extra lap around the supermarket – When doing the weekly shop take an extra lap through the supermarket.

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