Gluten intolerance and other digestive problems: the importance of exercise

Mélissa Globensky and Dino Masson, B.Sc., Kinesiologists Comments

Did you know that, combined with the right diet, exercise can help your digestive system.

We hear more and more about intestinal illnesses and gluten intolerance. In fact, 13 to 20% of Canadians suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and it is estimated that 330,000 Canadians live with celiac disease. Acid reflux, gastric ulcers, Crohn's disease and diverticulosis are just a few examples of gastro-intestinal illnesses. Here are some ways to help reduce the symptoms associated with these disorders.


Unfortunately, only 40% of people who experience symptoms of discomfort, bloating, constipation or diarrhea see a doctor about it. The fastest and most effective method to relieve these symptoms is often to eliminate from the diet certain foods that are most likely to cause them: gluten, dairy products, cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cabbage, broccoli) and many others. You have to experiment, start over, remove and add. Changes to your diet can be the key to speedy relief.

Physical activity

Have you given much thought to exercising? A combination of different physical activities, and at an adequate level, is certainly beneficial to your health. Of course, exercise can be difficult for some people suffering from more serious illnesses or more acute inflammation. The key to success is to start slowly and gradually increase your level of exercise.

A wide variety of physical activity options seem to have a positive impact on some gastro-intestinal illnesses, such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing, weight lifting and group sports. In a study examining bloating, researchers found that mild exercise increased gas passage and helped to prevent gas retention, but that more vigorous forms of exercise may have different effects on bloating.

There are so many ways to stay active in summer—try these outdoor activities too!

Symptoms and various conditions can be perceived differently depending on the person, so it's important to establish a routine and follow it carefully.

Whatever the illness you suffer from, there's definitely a type of physical activity that may help relieve some of your symptoms and improve your health. Be creative and think about inviting family members to exercise with you!

Your pharmacist will be more than happy to answer any of your health questions.

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