Exercise improves IBS symptoms
3rd February 2011
Physical activity improves the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and also protects against deterioration of the condition, the results of a new study indicate.
IBS is characterised by abdominal pain and discomfort. It is also associated with alterations in bowel patterns, from diarrhoea to constipation - most people affected will alternate between one and the other. Up to 15% of Irish people currently suffer with the condition.
Swedish researchers followed the progress of 102 IBS patients aged between 18 and 65. Half the participants were randomly allocated to increase their physical activity levels, while the other half maintained their usual lifestyle. The active group was advised to perform moderate to vigorous physical activity for 20 to 30 minutes, three to five times a week.
The participants rated their different IBS complaints at the start of the study and after three months.
"The group with unchanged lifestyle had an average decrease of symptoms by five points. The active group on the other hand showed a symptom improvement with an average reduction of 51 points," explained lead researcher, Dr Riadh Sadik, of the University of Gothenburg.
The study also found that the group with an unchanged lifestyle had deteriorating symptoms in 23% of cases, compared with the active group in which only 8% felt worse.
The measurement of fitness in the study showed a slight increase in the activity group only.
"This suggests that even a slight increase of physical activity may reduce symptoms and protect from deterioration," Dr Sadik said.
Details of these findings are published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.