Exercising with IBD has added challenges, but it’s doable – and recommended.
THE DAY HE RAN THE WALT Disney World Marathon, Todd Snider’s alarm went off at 1:30 a.m. Groggy, he dragged himself to the hotel bathroom, where he more or less remained on the toilet for the next two hours. Only then was he ready to do what other racers were just rising to do: things like eat bananas, drink electrolyte-rich fluids, lace up shoes and head to the start line. Needless to say, “it made for a long day,” says Snider, a 48-year-old elementary school teacher in Eatonton, Georgia.
Snider has ulcerative colitis, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and subsequent sores or ulcers in the lining of the colon (also known as the large intestine). The condition is an inflammatory bowel disease and can cause stomach pain, bleeding and frequent, urgent bowel movements. While UC is limited to the colon, the other main inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, can involve inflammation in any part of the gastrointestinal tract and result in similar symptoms – stomach cramps and pain, urgent and frequent diarrhea, rectal bleeding and fatigue.
While the conditions can be managed with medications, lifestyle modifications and in some cases surgery, there is no cure and the symptoms often set in and dissipate in unanticipated waves. As a result, people with IBD tend to adjust their daily lives and even careers to account for bathroom proximity. One study even showed that about a quarter of employed people with IBD were on sick leave and almost as many received a disability pension. Nearly 80 percent said their condition contributed to a “low working pace.” In other words, the disease affects patients’ social, mental and physical well-being, says Katie Taylor, an assistant professor of exercise science at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington, who studies physical activity in people with inflammatory bowel diseases.
|Read on: Can You Run With Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis?|