Effects of Regular Exercise in Management of Chronic Idiopathic Constipation


Regular physical exercise has long beenconsidered in the management of chronic constipation.This recommendation is probably based on the assumptionthat exercise shortens the transit time through the gastrointestinal tract. However, on the basisof previous studies, the effect of exercise on thetransit remains controversial at best. Therefore, it wasthe goal of the present study to assess the influence of regular physical exercise, what averagepeople may consider routine exercise, in the managementof chronic idiopathic constipation. The study populationconsisted of eight patients, seven women and a man, with chronic idiopathic constipation. Theywere studied for six weeks, including two weeks of restand four weeks of regular exercise. Patients had asubmaximal exercise test, before and after the exercise period, to determine their rate ofperceived exertion (RPE), the target heart rate, and theintensity of exercise they can perform. In addition totheir routine daily activities, they exercised 1 hr a day, five days a week according to theirperformance at the initial exercise tolerance test. Theykept a daily activity log and maintained their normaldietary intake during this period. The patients overall physical activity was assessed by apedometer. They also maintained a diary of the numberand consistency of their bowel movements and the amountof straining required for defecation. The impact of exercise on constipation was assessed byutilizing an index that took into consideration allthree parameters of bowel function. Results of the studyrevealed that patients covered 1.8 ± 0.33 and3.24 ± 0.28 miles/day in the rest period andduring the exercise period, respectively (P = 0.007).The intensity of exercise may have improved the level oftraining as reflected on the mean maximum time before and after exercise period (P = 0.039). Thislevel of exercise did not improve their constipationindices, which were 9.11 ± 0.65 and 8.57 ±1.08 in the rest and exercise periods, respectively (P= 0.68). In conclusion, physical activity, to the extentthat people consider “regular exercise,”does not play a role in the management of chronicidiopathic constipation.

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Meshkinpour, H., Selod, S., Movahedi, H. et al. Effects of Regular Exercise in Management of Chronic Idiopathic Constipation. Dig Dis Sci 43, 2379–2383 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1026609610466

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