IBD and Exercise Thoughts

Sometimes I feel like so many people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease are more athletic and exercise more than the general population. There are a wide range of foundations and charities that people partake in, in addition to those who work out on their own.

Whether it be riding your bike with Get Your Guts in Gear, completing a half marathon with Team Challenge, getting involved in Take Steps, or any others… it amazes me how determined, strong and physically fit so many patients are. I think that is one of the reasons why it bugs me when people say that patients got IBD because of poor lifestyle choices. I was extremely athletic and ate very healthy. The majority of people I know who suffer from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis were (some still are) athletes. So many of us were health conscious and had great habits prior to diagnosis. That claim makes no sense.

But anyway, I wanted to share my view on exercise with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and an ostomy.

I think exercising is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. It not only has amazing physical benefits but it helps you fight the mental aspect of a chronic illness. It allows you to feel like you did something good for your body, mind, health and future.

Here is the catch though: ONLY if you are physically able. Most people aren’t going to risk the gym or being outside if they are having frequent and urgent (and/or bloody) diarrhea. Those people are going to want to stay close to home because pain is also probably involved. The patients who are anemic, recovering from surgery, have an infection that is wiping them out, have drains in, have issues eating in general, etc shouldn’t be exercising. And it is OKAY if you are unable to do any physical activity. It will not be forever.

There were so many times when I would be recovering from surgery or just so sick and even though working out was obviously not possible, I would think about the mental aspect of it. There is nothing like exercising. I would look forward to the day I could return to the gym and get my body back to where it should be. It is definitely tough to have to keep starting over but I guess it comes with IBD.

I went to spinning classes for a little while but I generally like to do my own thing. I never lift or put pressure on my stomach. I am pretty careful with my body when I am working out.

For those of you who are really sick, recovering from surgery, laying in a hospital bed, bedridden at home, are in agony with no way to find relief, along with the millions of other patients worldwide ….. please know that I believe exercising can (and is) be a wonderful way of coping and definitely something that should be incoporated into your life. But there are times (and a lot of the time it is chunks of times… months, years even!) when a Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis patient is going through so much that simply taking a shower feels like running a marathon.

If you fall into this category, please don’t be discouraged when you see other patients running, biking, swimming, and doing things you can’t even fathom right now. We are all at different stages with our disease. But, you are not alone if you are at the point where you are proud of yourself for getting up and brushing your teeth. These things are a big deal when your body won’t allow you to do basic things (get out of bed, shower, make yourself something to eat, etc)