Exercise can benefit anyone, but when you suffer from a severe intestinal disorder like Crohn’s disease, jumping right into a fitness program can be dangerous. That’s why it’s important to approach any exercise regime with caution and consult your doctor to find out what they recommend.
While there are risks, however, there are also health benefits to moderate exercise with Crohn’s. Here are a few factors you should consider before you begin.
Building Bone Strength
Crohn’s is an inflammatory disease impacting the lining of the intestines and that inflammation can cause nutritional deficiencies. Because your body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly, weight bearing exercise can be a good way to reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
Weight bearing exercise can be very gentle and includes walking, jogging, dancing, and even climbing stairs. This makes it an ideal place to start, offering you benefits including a long-term reduction in injury risk, while also avoiding rapid overexertion.
Surgery And Recovery
Many people with Crohn’s require surgery to treat or remove parts of the intestine that have been severely damaged or because they are among the over 108,000 people newly diagnosed with colon cancer each year. If you’ve recently undergone surgery, take plenty of time to recover before beginning to exercise again.
When you are feeling better and once you have the permission of your doctor, exercising, especially with a friend, can help you feel more comfortable in your body again. Being able to participate in light exercise can be rejuvenating and connecting with friends can give you the support you need to rejoin pre-surgery activities.
Know Your Limits
Some of the main symptoms of Crohn’s include stomach pain, diarrhea, and difficulty eating. Though living with the condition means you may experience some pain on most days, take your symptoms into account before setting out to exercise on any given day.
If you’ve been struggling to eat for several days, exercising is unwise since you don’t have the necessary nutrition to sustain activity. Similarly, if you’re experiencing severe diarrhea, jogging and other exercise often activate the digestive tract and may make this symptom work.
When you do feel well enough to exercise, following some simple dietary guidelines. Don’t eat foods that trigger flares such as dairy or other high fat foods and try eating smaller meals throughout the day. When planning to exercise, it may be smarter to eat a small meal, wait for a period of time, and then exercise before coming back and eating another small meal.
It’s also important to make sure you’re properly hydrated for several days before exercising. Crohn’s can make it more likely for you to suffer from chronic dehydration, so drinking plenty of water and avoiding dehydrating liquids like coffee and alcohol is important.
Exercising with Crohn’s isn’t impossible and it can be a powerful way to feel stronger, fight inflammation, and reduce long term risks associated with disease. With proper caution and preparation, you can enjoy the benefits of gentle exercise while living with Crohn’s disease.