Jennifer Rackley Jennifer Rackley's Blog

Exercise Has Many Benefits for IBD

As most of you know exercise is imperative in maintaining health. A recent study in the November issue of Cancer Causes and Control goes this one step further by linking activity to a lower risk of colon and rectal cancer. Conversely, inactivity was linked to a higher risk. This makes it all the more important to include exercise into your lifestyle.

Exercise is also a wonderful tool for relieving stress. When you have a chronic condition such as IBD the stress can be unbelievable at times. Giving yourself a healthy way to manage the stress and strengthen your body can be very empowering.

Some of the medications used to treat IBD, as well as dietary issues, can wreak havoc on your bone density. Weight bearing exercise is one way to help maintain bone strength. This can pay dividends as you age.

It can be difficult at times to find an activity that suits your constraints. For myself I have found that activities that have a lot of "bouncing" are, ahem, not so comfortable at times. (I have endometriosis). I am sure that that is the case with some of you as well. So, I thought I would share with you my favorite exercises in the hopes of giving you some ideas of your own.

Yoga. I have been practicing yoga now for about 5 years. It has strengthened my muscles in a non-jarring way and has increased my flexibility dramatically. All of those things have been wonderful but, to be perfectly honest, the stress relief of yoga is what keeps me coming back again and again. I am never more relaxed then when I have finished a session. My personal favorite is a local class but I have some dvd's that do the job in a pinch!

Walking. When the weather is nice there is nothing more relaxing to me than a long walk. We are blessed to have some pretty nice walking trails in our area so that helps. They are not too far from civilization (aka restrooms) so that is an added bonus. I also have a treadmill at home which sees some limited use as well. Thirty minutes of walking a day is all it takes to have the benefits so lace up some sneakers!

Elliptical machines. For most of us that means a gym membership but the elliptical is by far one of my favorite machines! In my experience it provides a similar workout to running with out as much of the "bounce" that you get from a good run. I do still like to jog on occasion but the elliptical machine is good for those "uncoordinated" days where I feel as if a jog might end in a broken ankle (as it has in the past).

Weight lifting. Ok, don't run away just yet. I don't mean massive weights. I mean moderate weight to fatigue the muscle. For most of us that isn't much. The benefits of weight lifting are wonderful. It can strengthen the muscles to make all these other activities seem that much easier. It helps me keep up with lifting two toddlers!

I hope that I have given you some ideas and encouragement to add exercise to your daily routine. Try new things until you find what works best for your schedule. Remember to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program!


Check with your
doctor first!