Your pancreas is the organ that produces enzymes to aid digestion and insulin to control your blood sugar. When your pancreas becomes inflamed, this condition is called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be acute, severe and sudden, or chronic, long term with possible pancreatic damage. Both cause bleeding, tissue death in or near the pancreas and abdominal pain. In addition to lifestyle changes and medication, exercise is usually recommended, but talk to your doctor about how to manage your condition.
Mild acute pancreatitis can either go away on its own or be controlled by diet; more severe attacks may require hospitalization. Treatment for chronic pancreatitis, however, may include treatment for alcoholism, pain management, enzyme supplements, weight loss and exercise, especially if brought on from high triglyceride levels. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you may be able to reduce your risk of attack and lessen symptoms by exercising moderately for 30 minutes, five times per week. If you are susceptible to pancreatic attacks, avoid any consumption of alcohol.
Pain management and stress reduction are two key factors in the treatment of pancreatitis. Exercise is known to benefit you in both areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, depression is a concern for long-term pain sufferers, as with chronic pancreatitis; exercise helps to reduce your risk of depression. According to the CDC, choose either 30 minutes of aerobics or a mix of resistance training and aerobics, five times per week to reap these rewards.
After recovering from surgery, some patients experience exercise-induced pancreatitis, according to research by the Medical College of Wisconsin, published in "The Official Journal of International Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association." Patients reported doing activity outside of the regular exercise routines that researchers believe caused abdominal pressures. Some of the activities considered strenuous that led to the attack were moving appliances and shoveling heavy loads of dirt. To avoid further attacks, patients were instructed to avoid long bouts of extremely intense activities.
While it is necessary that you discuss your exercise options with your doctor to put together your own personal fitness plan, some ideas you might want to discuss include yoga or tai chi for relaxation and pain management, water aerobics for low-impact cardiovascular and resistance exercise, walking and dancing. Choose activities that will not risk abdominal trauma, as this can further damage the pancreas. Remember, too, that pancreatitis can cause dehydration, so drink lots of water while you exercise. Eat a low-fat diet and quit smoking and drinking as well.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Pancreatitis
- "The Official Journal of International Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association"; Exercise-Induced Cholangitis and Pancreatitis; John G. Touzios, et al.; 2005
- CNNHealth: Pancreatitis
- Family Doctor: Pancreatitis
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone