Run Your Butt Off

Increasing physical activity helps reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Exercise helps reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a study from Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg and Alingsås Hospital.

Irritable bowel syndrome affects 10 to 15 percent of the US population (25 to 45 million people). The disorder alters bowel habits in the form of chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of the two. Those who suffer from IBS experience abdominal pain and discomfort.

For the study, researchers examined a group of 102 IBS patients between 18 and 65 years of age. Half of the patients were told to increase their physical activity by exercising for 20 to 30 minutes three to five times a week. The other half of the group maintained their routine behavior. A psychotherapist gave supportive phone calls to patients in both groups.

After three months, the group with unchanged lifestyle reported a five point decrease in IBS complaints such as abdominal pain, stool problems, and quality of life. The IBS patients who increased their physical activity reported a 51 point decrease in IBS complaints.

The study also showed that the exercise group had only a slight increase in fitness. This suggests, says senior physician Riadh Sadik, that even modest increases in exercise patterns can help reduce symptoms of IBS.

The study - which was conducted by Elisabet Johannesson, Magnus Simrén, Hans Strid, Antal Bajor and Riadh Sadik - appears in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

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Review Date: 
January 25, 2011
Last Updated:
February 17, 2011