Feeling bloated in your abdomen or being constipated can be uncomfortable conditions. There are numerous reasons for a slowdown in your digestive system, including certain medications like antibiotics, poor diet, irritable bowel syndrome or other types of medical conditions that affect your lower intestines. While over-the-counter medications and remedies are available for bloating and constipation, exercise can be beneficial in correcting or maintaining a healthy metabolism and digestive system, in a natural stimulant-free way.
A study in the "International Journal of Sports Medicine" in 2008 found that participants with irritable bowel syndrome experienced some relief from constipation through exercise. Participating in a regular exercise program can help your food pass through your digestive system more easily, which can help to ease both bloating and constipation. While you don't have to do a long strenuous gym workout seven days a week, you can benefit with some sort of physical activity each day, including activities like taking your dog for a walk, going bicycle riding with your kids or walking to work rather than taking the bus.
Going for a run is an effective way to get your digestive system moving and to keep your metabolism functioning properly. Cardiovascular exercises elevate your heart rate and produce an adrenaline kick that helps all of your metabolic and digestive systems to work more effectively. If you have led a sedentary life or if running isn't your preference, other less intense forms of cardio are also beneficial, including swimming, aerobic dance, riding a bicycle, playing tennis or using the elliptical trainer at the gym. The most important thing is that you get your body moving, which in turn can help your digestive system to move as well.
The different poses and movement required by a regular yoga can help you to maintain a healthy digestive system. Twists and backbends can place pressure on your abdominal muscles and lower intestines, which can help to stimulate movement and allow gas, bloating and constipation to be relieved. Practice twists, such as Bharadvaja's twist, half lord of the fishes and noose pose to stimulate your lower belly. And backbends like locust, bow and cobra poses can have the same affect.
Keeping the muscles in your abdominal wall strong can help you to push gas through and keep your digestive system moving. Incorporate core-strengthening moves into your regular exercise program, working your entire core to have a positive affect on your digestion system. Examples include plank exercises, crunches done on a stability ball and bicycle crunches.
- "International Journal of Sports Medicine"; The Effects of Exercise Upon Symptoms and Quality of Life in Patients Diagnosed With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomised Controlled Trial; A.J. Daley, et al; September 2008
- "Yoga Journal"; Bharadvaja's Twist
- "Yoga Journal"; Locust Pose
- "Parents"; 10 Ways to Beat Bloating; October 2004
- MayoClinic.com; Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical; February 2011