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Pooping

Get active for your gut

As kids we learn that ‘everybody poops’. It’s a natural, normal and necessary bodily process. And of course, good poops are highly reflective of good health. But as adults, poor eating choices, stress and hectic schedules can affect our digestive system and manifest into less movement in your movements. If your gut is out of whack, it’s time to get in gear and get moving!

Image of woman in yoga pose on roll of toilet paper

How can physical activity help my bowel movements?

We all experience the discomfort of irregularity from time to time. In fact, one in four Canadians has symptoms of constipation,1 and women of all ages are twice as likely to suffer. The good news is that regular physical activity can keep your bowel movements regular. It reduces constipation by lowering the time it takes for food to move through the large intestine, thus limiting the amount of water your body absorbs from the stool, which keeps the stool softer and easier to pass

If you’re already regular, you may notice that the frequency of your bowel movements increases as you kick up your exercise routine.

Your digestive tract is most stable when you’re in a consistent exercise routine and exercise at the same time each day.2

In addition to eating a high-fibre diet and drinking plenty of liquids, moving more goes a long way when it comes to staying regular.

A series of toilet paper rolls unwound to different lengths

Here’s how:

To help you Poop Better, some recommendations include:

  • Yoga and other stretching can ease the pain and discomfort of digestive trouble by helping manage stress and providing a ‘digestive massage’ to your intestines (think twisting poses).
  • Squats, lunges and bridge exercises strengthen the pelvic floor: the group of muscles and tissues that support the organs (bladder, uterus, bowel, rectum) within the lower abdomen.
  • Cardiovascular-focused activities like running and swimming increase your breathing and heart rates, stimulating the muscles in your intestines, which leads to bowel movements.
  • Physical activity can make you thirsty, encouraging you to drink water and look for other ways to hydrate yourself. In addition to proper nutrition and physical activity, this is essential to keeping you regular.
  • Check out the free ParticipACTION app to track your progress and for ongoing motivation, articles and exercise videos.

References

  1. CANADIAN DIGESTIVE HEALTH FOUNDATION. (2014). UNDERSTANDING THE PREVALENCE AND IMPACT OF CONSTIPATION IN CANADA. RETRIEVED FROM http://www.cdhf.ca/bank/document_en/76understanding-the-prevalence-and-impact-of-constipation-in-canada.pdf

  2. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN HEALTH SYSTEMS. (2011). HEALTHY BOWEL HABITS. RETRIEVED FROM https://medicine.umich.edu/sites/default/files/content/downloads/healthy-bowel-habits.pdf