July 23, 2010

Running for Improved Bowel Movements

Posted in Category : Alternate Therapies

There are many health benefits that can be obtained from running. Running is a form of exercise that is easy to perform and provides a great deal of physical and mental reward. One of the health benefits of running is improved bowel movements. The association between running and bowel movements is perhaps lesser known. But since the breathing is elevated during running, there are wave-like movements in the bowels. This makes it easier to release the bowels, thereby preventing problems such as constipation and hemorrhoids.

On the other hand, running can also lead to certain bowel problems such as diarrhea and gastrointestinal disorders. This is referred to as runner’s trots and usually occurs during long runs. The condition may be of a dietary nature, although it could also be caused due to reduced blood flow in digestion. This is because the blood is mostly drawn to the muscles while running. Runner’s trots are especially common in new runners and are likely to subside once fitness improves. Some of the symptoms of this condition include nausea, cramping, flatulence and diarrhea. These symptoms may occur during the exercise or after. It is advisable to avoid consuming food for at least a couple of hours before running or performing any type of exercise. When there is food in the stomach, the problem could be further aggravated. It is also recommended that runners avoid eating high fiber foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables before working out. Also stay away from coffee and tea as these are known to have a diuretic effect on the body. Warm fluids may quicken the passage of waste matter through the intestine and hence it is advisable to avoid consuming them before exercise. It is important to stay hydrated during exercise. Electrolyte levels of the body may be maintained through sports drinks. Foods that have a binding effect are recommended before running. Such foods include bananas or white rice.

Dairy intake should also be limited, especially for those who are prone to diarrhea. It also helps to be aware of one’s bowel habits so that exercise may be scheduled for after bowel movements. Those with irritable bowel syndrome stand to benefit from consulting a doctor as without treatment, the condition could become worse. In case the problem persists even in experienced runners, a medical check-up may be necessary to determine the exact cause. Once the cause is identified, the appropriate treatment can be administered.