Exercise improves symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome

Running to the loo

A study conducted at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg and at Alingsås Hospital has shown that physical exercise improves the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and protects against symptom deterioration. Half a group of 102 IBS patients aged between 18 and 65 were instructed to increase their physical exercise, and the other half were instructed to maintain their usual lifestyle. Both groups received support from physiotherapists throughout the trial. The group performing exercise were advised to carry out moderate to vigorous physical activity for 20-30 minutes between three and five times a week.

The participants were asked to rate their different IBS symptoms (such as abdominal pain, stool problems and quality of life) at the start of the study and after three months.

The group with the active lifestyle showed an improvement in symptoms (or a reduction in severity of symptoms) by an average of 51 points, whereas the sedentary group reported a worsening of symptoms by 5 points.

The research also found that the sedentary group had deteriorating symptoms in 23% of cases, compared with the active group reporting only 8%. Fitness levels in the active group increased only slightly, suggesting that just a moderate increase in physical activity may reduce symptoms and protect from deterioration.

Source: University of Gothenburg


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