Most people are aware of the many benefits of physical activity to our health. It helps us maintain a healthy weight, decreases our risk of heart disease, strengthens bones, helps control diabetes, and can even contribute to prevention of some types of cancer. However, few people are aware of the effects exercise can have on the digestive system.
According to a study carried out in Minnesota on overweight men and women, exercise actually improved gastrointestinal problems, although these same digestive problems limited people's ability to work out. However, overall people felt better by just simply doing exercise.
The participants of the study experienced the following digestive problems: stomachaches, irritable bowels, diarrhea and swelling. The study revealed that overweight people suffered from more gastrointestinal problems; however, as they started to exercise more and reduced their intake of fat in favor of eating fruits and vegetables, they felt better.
In addition, the amount of exercise you do is linked to bowel movement regularity. However, the role physical activity plays in preventing constipation is still not clear. Exercising strengthens abdominal muscles and stimulates the rapid and effective passage of food through the intestines.
To prevent constipation, walking at least an hour a day is recommended. Walking at least 10 minutes after having lunch is also recommended because it facilitates digestion by stimulating the passage of excrement. In addition, standing up also contributes to the efficient preparation of the fecal bolus due to the simple force of gravity.
Doing exercise contributes to mental relaxation and stress release. Excessive stress can increase symptoms of constipation and and irritable colon.
Tips for avoiding constipation:
- When you feel the need to go to the bathroom, go immediately. Don't wait.
- When going to the bathroom, get on a schedule. A good time to go is after eating breakfast, or after meals.
- Eat more fiber.
- Drink enough liquids: this includes water, juice, soup, tea and other drinks.
- Avoid taking laxatives often.
- If you are stressed, go take a walk or practice some sort of relaxation method such as yoga.
- Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly.
- Avoid carbonated drinks.
- Above all, do more physical activity and become more active.
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