Staying active with Crohn's disease
Having Crohn's disease shouldn't stop you from being physically active. When done properly, exercise won't worsen your symptoms. In fact, regular exercise may:
- Ease the side effects of medications typically used to treat Crohn's disease, such as nausea, headaches and vomiting.
- Help you cope with emotions associated with Crohn's disease that can negatively impact your quality of life, such as anxiety and depression.
Exercise can help reduce depression and anxiety, increase overall strength, improve bone health, boost the immune system and minimize digestive symptoms.
Choosing exercises that are best for you
The following exercises may be recommended if you have Crohn's disease. But talk with your doctor before engaging in any physical activity. He or she can help you determine which exercises are best suited to your situation and abilities.
- Resistance training. Resistance training can help strengthen your muscles and bones, which can be weakened by Crohn's disease. Use elastic bands or free weights and focus on the major muscle groups in your legs and torso. Be sure to take breaks between sets of exercises.
- Aerobic exercise. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, running, swimming and cycling. Depending on your situation, certain activities may trigger Crohn's disease symptoms. If so, change or limit these activities to meet your needs.
If you have a flare-up, limit your activities until your symptoms are under control and you've regained your strength and energy. Don't overwork yourself, but remember that staying active is important to your long-term health. Work with your doctor to modify your activities, if at all possible, so that you're still being active in some way. For instance, if your symptoms make activity out of the house difficult, try to find ways to be active at home by doing light chores or other household tasks.
Frequent bowel movements and medications that hasten dehydration can be of particular concern when you have Crohn's disease, so remember to hydrate properly and avoid extreme heat when exercising.
Oct. 01, 2019
See more In-depth
- Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis: A guide for parents. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. http://www.ccfa.org/resources/guide-for-parents.html. Accessed July 2, 2014.
- Bilski J, et al. The role of physical exercise in inflammatory bowel disease. BioMed Research International. 2014;2014:429031.
- Ng V, et al. Exercise and Crohn's disease: Speculations on potential benefits. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2006;20:657.
- Health tips. Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. http://online.ccfa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=health_tips_exercise. Accessed Aug. 20, 2019.
- Narula N, et al. Exercise and inflammatory bowel disease. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2008;22:497.
- Perez CA. Prescription of physical exercise in Crohn's disease. Journal of Crohn's & Colitis. 2009;3:225.
- Helping prevent IBD flares. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation: I'll Be Determined. http://www.ibdetermined.org/ibd-information/ibd-quality-of-life/ibd-helping-prevent-ibd-flares.aspx. Accessed Aug. 20, 2019.
- Hashash JG, et al. Exercise and inflammatory bowel disease. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. 2017;46:895.
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