Written by Kimberley Gittens, RD on behalf of Rachel McBryan, RD 

You may know that your diet and nutrition play a big role in the management of your IBS symptoms. But, what you may not know is that regular exercise plays an important role in managing your IBS. Exercises can help, improve bowel movements and digestion, boost the immune system, and enhance overall well-being. There are a variety of exercises that you can include in your weekly routine to alleviate your IBS symptoms. 

Benefits of Exercise For IBS

Reduces Stress and Anxiety 

There are many ways that exercise can reduce your stress and anxiety. Firstly, exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. It also helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety. And finally, regular exercise can also improve your quality of sleep, further reducing stess and anxiety. 

Improves Bowel Movement and Digestion

 Regular exercise plays an important role in improving bowel movements and digestion. Exercise helps to stimulate your GI tract, which encourages the movement and digestion of foods and ultimately leads to regular bowel movements. 

Boosts Your Immune System

Exercise can also help boost the your immune system, which can be particularly beneficial for IBS. Research shows that regular exercise improves immune function by,

    • Increasing the circulation of immune cells throughout the body
    • Reducing inflammation
    • Lowering stress hormones

These benefits can help reduce the risk of infections and illnesses, and may also help improve symptoms of autoimmune disorders. Including exercise in your routine can help reduce your GI symptoms with improved immune function and overall health.

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Enhances Your Overall Wellbeing

Regular exercise has many benefits for your overall well-being. It can help reduce stress, improve sleep quality, boost the immune system, and enhance your overall physical health. Additionally, studies show that exercise has a positive impact on mental health, improving mood, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increasing self-esteem. By incorporating exercise into your weekly routine, you can experience significant improvements in many aspects of health, well-being, and quality of life.

Types of Exercise and Their Benefits

Now that we’ve established all the benefits of exercise, here are some beneficial types of exercises for IBS management  

Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises

Low-impact aerobic exercises are types of exercises that don’t put too much stress on the body. These types of exercises are ideal for your IBS as they can help improve bowel movements and overall health without causing excessive strain. Some examples of low-impact aerobic exercises include,

    • Walking
    • Cycling
    • Swimming


Yoga has gained popularity in recent years due to its many health benefits. Yoga can be particularly helpful for managing your IBS, as it helps reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation and improve digestion. Yoga involves a series of poses and breathing exercises which can easily be modified to suit your needs. Some of the most popular yoga poses for IBS include:

    • Seated forward bend
    • Spinal twist
    • Cat pose 
    • Child’s pose
    • Warrior’s pose
    • Cow’s pose
    • Camel pose 
    • Downward facing dog 
Yoga is a great exercise for IBS management

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises are another great option for IBS. These types of exercises can help relieve tension in your muscles and improve flexibility, which can in turn help improve digestion. Some examples of stretching exercises include:

    • Hamstring stretches
    • Calf stretches
    • Shoulder stretches

These exercises also support your overall health and can reduce your risk of injuries. Stretching regularly can improve your posture, balance and coordination.

Like with other exercises, it’s important to start slowly and gently with stretches, gradually building your way up to more challenging stretches over time. It’s also important to avoid any stretches that cause pain or discomfort.

Resistance Training

Resistance training is a type of exercise that involves using weights or other forms of resistance to build strength and muscle mass. There are many benefits of resistance exercise for your overall health and IBS. Studies show that resistance training is associated with reduced inflammation throughout the body, regular bowel movements and improved insulin sensitivity. With all the benefits of resistance training, you might be tempted to jump right in, however, it’s important to start slowly and with low weights, gradually building up to more challenging exercise. It’s also important to avoid any exercises that cause pain or discomfort.

    Weights are part of resistance exercise which plays an important role in IBS management

    Take Away

    Minerals support many essential functions throughout your body, from managing blood pressure to regulating your heart beat. Getting adequate amounts of mineral from your diet is key for supporting your health. Including a variety of foods in your diet can help ensure you’re meeting your nutrient needs. 

    Say Goodbye to Your GI Symptoms

    Working with a Registered Dietitian can help you learn to enjoy food again, while eliminating your IBS symptoms. Book a FREE discovery call to get started!


    Ford, A. C., Moayyedi, P., Chey, W. D., & Lacy, B. E. (2020). American College of Gastroenterology monograph on the management of irritable bowel syndrome and chronic idiopathic constipation. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 115(1), 16-35.

    Gibson, P. R., Shepherd, S. J., & Lomer, M. C. (2013). An evidence-based approach to the management of irritable bowel syndrome. Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 7(6), 543-551.

    Kuttner, L. (2016). Yoga for digestive health: an exploration of yoga as a therapeutic modality for irritable bowel syndrome. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 24, 68-72.

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2020). Irritable bowel syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome

    Park, J. W., Jo, K. J., & Shin, C. J. (2019). The effect of exercise on constipation and irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(5), 738.

    Vork, L., Keszthelyi, D., & Mujagic, Z. (2018). Exercise therapy in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Gastroenterology, 53(6), 593-605.



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    Kimberley is a Registered Dietitian, licensed in Ontario. She helps clients across Ontario control their blood sugars and reduce their risk of chronic conditions.