Can Exercise Work For Ulcerative Colitis?

Zones affected by ulcerative colitis (UC)If you live with ulcerative colitis (UC), then you already know that this can be a difficult disease to manage. Like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease which can cause debilitating periods of abdominal pain and diarrhea. However, something that a lot of patients still wonder is if exercise can be used effectively to help control the symptoms of UC? The answer is a little complicated, but research does support that this disease can be managed with the proper type of exercise.

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

In order to clarify this response, it’ll help to cover a brief overview of ulcerative colitis. As previously stated, this is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), similar to Crohn’s disease. Unlike Crohn’s disease however, ulcerative colitis affects the large bowel (colon) and rectum only.

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can include frequent bouts of diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, cramping, rectal mucus discharge, a distended abdomen, and fever. As one can see, this disease is often life-altering, and high stress levels can exacerbate these symptoms. So how can one best manage the symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

Exercising Mice with UC Symptoms

In recent UC clinical trial at the University of Illinois, a team of researchers tested the impact regular aerobic exercise had on lab mice which exhibited these IBD symptoms. For this experiment, the team split the lab mice into two groups: one group would be allowed to exercise freely for 6 weeks and the other was forced to exercise several times per week for the trial period. The team found that the mice with more freedom in their routine also exhibited fewer symptoms over the 6 week period.

When it comes to ulcerative colitis, a person’s diet, genetic background, stress levels, and bacterial environment in the gut all can play a major role in the development of this disease. To date, there is still much mystery surrounding the effects that regularly performed but moderately intensive exercise can have on people living with inflammatory bowel diseases. Quite frankly, the data collected from this UC clinical study could prove invaluable.

Other Non-Drug Options for Treating Ulcerative Colitis

If you are not interested in using prescription strength medications, there are a variety of ways that you can treat and manage the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. One controversial yet effective method of treatment happens to be marijuana. Scientists have conducted a number of studies, and there is a very promising compound found in marijuana which could eventually be used to develop a whole new class of anti-IBD drugs.

Probiotics (helpful bacteria for the gut) could also hold a lot of potential for patients with ulcerative colitis. One study at the University of Bristol tested whether a particular strain of probiotics could be used to prohibit excessive iron levels associated with severe cases of IBD. It is noteworthy that this research is still in its early stages and requires more time.

Another option could be resveratrol, this phytonutrient that is found in the skin of red grapes and other plants. In several ulcerative colitis clinical trials, resveratrol has proven its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory. You could also try eating blueberries or bilberries with a side of probiotics in order to relieve your UC symptoms.

According to the data collected in the University of Illinois study, it would seem like aerobic exercise combined with a low stress routine may be the most efficient way of managing ulcerative colitis symptoms. If you are living with this disease and wish to stay active, then please be sure not to overdo it.



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