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Does Exercise Aggravate Diverticulitis?

author image Jackie Carmichael
Jackie Carmichael has been a freelance writer for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared in "Woman's World" and "American Baby" magazines. Carmichael is a licensed registered nurse and has worked in fields related to cardiovascular health and psychiatry. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from The Ohio State University.

Diverticulosis occurs when small pouches in the large intestine bulge outward through weak spots. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, or NDDIC, 10 percent of Americans older than 40, and half of people older than 60, have diverticulosis. The condition is called diverticulitis when the pouches become inflamed. About 10 to 25 percent of people with diverticulosis get diverticulitis, according to the NDDIC. Diverticulitis can cause too much pain to exercise; however, physical activity may prevent the condition or reduce some of the symptoms.


Pouches develop when weak spots in your large intestine are placed under too much pressure and protrude through the intestinal wall. It is not completely understood how pouches become inflamed and infected, leading to diverticulitis. According to, increased pressure in the intestine can impact a pouch wall and may lead to infection, pouches may trap fecal material, also leading to infection, or an obstruction in the narrow opening of a pouch may restrict blood flow and lead to inflammation. Your chances of getting diverticulitis increase with age, and you're also at greater risk if you eat too little fiber, are obese and lead a sedentary lifestyle.


Symptoms of diverticulitis include abdominal pain and tenderness on the lower left side, a change in bowel habits, fever, nausea and vomiting, constipation and diarrhea. More severe but uncommon symptoms include bloating and rectal bleeding.


Treatment includes medication, a special diet and rest. Hospitalization and surgery may be necessary in severe cases. If an attack of diverticulitis causes bleeding, an infection or a lot of inflammation, get immediate medical attention.

Exercise and Diverticular Complications

Exercise may help you avoid diverticulitis and the symptoms that go along with the condition. A study published in the "American Journal of Gastroenterology" in 2009 followed 47,228 males between the ages of 40 and 75 who were free of any digestive diseases, including diverticular disease. The men who were diagnosed with diverticular disease during the study period were followed and their physical activity was monitored for several years. It was found that physical activity, especially vigorous activity, was associated with a decreased risk of diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding.

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