Exercise

Crohn’s patients are constantly told that symptoms can be lessened by finding the right diet and exercise routine.

This leaves Crohn's patients with a bunch of questions:  How much exercise is too much? What is the best exercise to help reduce symptoms? Can certain exercises kick-start a patient into remission?

Exercise is Not a Cure

While exercise can help the digestive tract work more efficiently, it’s important for Crohn’s sufferers to know that no exercise can singlehandedly send a Crohn’s patient into remission. While all Crohn’s patients know there is no cure for the disease, many are eager to find that one thing that will send them into remission.

The key to remission is either combating the patient’s immune system imbalance or reducing inflammation and ideally, both. All regular exercise can do is improve a patient’s overall health, which may lessen a patient’s symptoms.

Moderate Exercise is Key

For Crohn’s patients, there’s no benefit in high-impact, exhausting workouts. These types of workouts may only exacerbate symptoms and zap the sufferer’s energy.

In studies, participants with Crohn’s who walked three times per week at a moderate pace saw a reduction in their symptoms versus patients who made no change in their physical activity levels. In addition to relief from symptoms, the participants also noticed an overall improvement in their well-being.

Experts believe light exercise relieves symptoms primarily by reducing the patient’s stress level. Since stress can aggravate digestive issues, this can provide Crohn’s patients welcome relief. Exercise has also been pinpointed to help lift depression, which is also known as a symptom of Crohn’s.

Exercise has another benefit for Crohn’s patients: osteoporosis prevention. Crohn’s patients are at an increased risk for osteoporosis, both by the nature of the disease and as a side effect of many Crohn’s medications. Since exercise is known to help prevent osteoporosis, by beginning a light ?exercise program, Crohn’s sufferers can help reduce their risk of bone loss.

The Best Kind of Exercise

In addition to walking at a moderate pace, yoga is another known stress reliever. Since yoga helps build muscle and burn calories without putting increased stress on your digestive tract, it can be of great benefit to Crohn’s patients. There are even specific poses to help with digestion. 

The key to beginning any new exercise program is to first check with your doctor. Make sure your physician is on board with any major changes you make to your nutrition and physical activity.

Whatever exercise program you choose, it needs to be something you enjoy. If you start an exercise program you enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it in the long term. Whether you choose to take up horseback riding or join a bowling league, getting active and having fun are the keys to finding an exercise program that works for you.

For Crohn’s patients, it’s important to make sure you choose an exercise that allows you easy access to restrooms should you need them. You’ll also need to make sure you hydrate properly before, during, and after your exercise session. Water is great, but for extra hydration choose a beverage with electrolytes. Dehydration can be an issue for Crohn’s patients, especially for those with chronic diarrhea.

If you’re thinking about choosing a new exercise program to help reduce your Crohn’s symptoms, remember to take it easy. Choosing a light to moderate exercise that helps your overall health without putting extra stress on your digestive system is important.