Physical exercise is the best way to maintain the functional ability, which is especially important in long-lasting (chronic) diseases that have harmful effects such as IBD. The physiological effects are clearly seen in muscles, bones, joints, metabolism, blood circulation, neural and hormonal systems. Regular exercise helps to keep bones strong and decreases the risk of coronary artery disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, and it may protect against colon and breast cancers.
Moderate exercise is believed to improve the function of the digestive system, for example, brisk walking may help treat constipation. Low intensity exercise may have protective effects on the gastrointestinal tract, however intensive endurance training may cause nausea, diarrhoea, stomach ulcers, and other types of digestion problems.
Little is known about the effects of physical exercise on IBD. However, Loudon et al. (1999) studied the effects of physical exercise on patients with Crohn's disease. In this study it was found that sedentary patients with Crohn's disease can tolerate low intensity exercise of moderate duration without exacerbation of symptoms. Physical exercise is not harmful for patients with IBD, and it may even reduce disease activity and improve feelings of well-being, perceived stress, and quality of life.
For more information:
Kunnamo, I., Varonen, H., Nyberg, P., Alenius, H., Ellonen, M., Helin-Salmivaara, A., Hiltunen, L., Jousimaa, J., Kaila, M., Mattila-Lindy, S., Paakkari, P. & Pennanen, P. (2004). Lääkärin käsikirja. Helsinki: Duodecim.
McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I. & Katch, V. L. (2001). Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance. USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Vuori, I. & Taimela, S. (1999). Liikuntalääketiede. Helsinki: Duodecim.
Mero, A., Nummela, A., Keskinen, K. & Häkkinen, K. (2004). Urheiluvalmennus. Jyväskylä: VK-Kustannus.