This is evidence-based guidance and advice on physical activity and exercise using the best available knowledge, experience, and academic research.

Moving for Relief: Physical Activity and IBD

Regular physical activity can be an effective way to manage chronic inflammatory conditions. Studies show that exercise can reduce inflammation by affecting the body’s production of inflammatory markers. However, if you have an inflammatory condition, it is important to approach exercise with care and personalize your routine.

Start Low, Go Slow: To get started with exercise, it’s best to begin with low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or gentle yoga. You can then gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts as your body gets used to it. Aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week is a good goal. You can break down your exercise routine into manageable chunks to make it more achievable.

Listen to Your Body: Pain is a signal to modify your exercise routine. Opt for activities that put minimal stress on your joints and prioritize pain management through techniques such as ice or heat therapy.

Work with Your Doctor: It is important to discuss your exercise plans with your doctor to ensure safety and tailor a program that complements your treatment plan. Your doctor can advise on modifications for specific conditions and monitor your progress.

Embrace Variety: Choosing various activities helps prevent overuse injuries and maintain motivation. Consider incorporating water-based exercises, strength training with light weights, or stretching routines.

Focus on Consistency: Aim for consistent physical activity, even if it’s just short bursts throughout the day. Consistency is key to reaping the anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise.

Remember: Physical activity is a journey, not a race. By incorporating safe and personalized exercise into your routine, you can manage inflammatory ailments and experience significant improvements.

When you experience a flare-up, make sure to prioritize rest.

During the active periods of your disease, you may experience weakness, blood loss, and malnutrition. It’s best to avoid any strenuous activities during this time, allowing your body to focus on fighting inflammation while prioritizing rest, nutrition, and hydration. It’s also a great opportunity to prioritize your well-being by engaging in meditation, reflective practices, and breathing exercises as they may provide some relief from the battle to reach remission.

After experiencing a flare-up, it’s important to begin your rehabilitation process.

First and foremost, it’s important to discuss with your doctor and determine the optimal time for you to begin or resume exercising. After experiencing a severe flare-up, your body may be depleted of essential nutrients, salts, and vitamins. Additionally, your bones may have been weakened by corticosteroid treatment. You may require supplementation or need to wait a longer period before your doctor approves exercise. If this is the case, don’t expect your body to perform at the same level as before the flare-up. It’s also unlikely that you’ll be able to start with the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week right away. Start slow, pay attention to your body, and avoid overexerting yourself. Take it one step at a time, and you’ll have plenty of time to make progress.

Prehabilitation when you are in remission.

Investing in prehabilitation is critical at this time. It involves preparing your body for any future flare-ups. Studies have proven that people who are physically fit have a better prognosis if they experience flare-ups, recover faster, and may even avoid or delay them altogether. To achieve this, you should focus on building lean muscle mass and improving your endurance, commonly referred to as ‘being fitter.’ This will help you manage pain, improve mental health, and reduce fatigue in your daily life. You should also engage in activities that you enjoy. It is recommended to aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which can be broken down into 30-minute sessions five times a week (you can obviously do more, if you like). Additionally, it is essential to engage in strength-based activities at least twice a week, which can include resistance training, yoga, or Pilates, as they are equally effective in building strength.

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