Crohn’s Disease, Exercise, And Sports

Is there a way you can stop being a prisoner to Crohn’s Disease and enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle like everybody else? Well I have, but it’s not easy, it takes work, but I did it and you can too!

I’m a Crohn’s Disease survivor of 39 years; I’ll be turning 60 this December. Before the doctors diagnosed the reason for the stomach cramps, weight loss, low energy, and bouts of diarrhea, I preferred not leaving the house. I had few friends, because, I never felt good enough to join them in doing anything. I finally got relief from the Crohn’s in 1971 with emergency surgery to resection my intestine that had become perforated, in the area of the small bowel and ileum. Several inches of my diseased intestines were cut out and I was told I’d never be normal again.

Many of the Crohn’s Disease symptoms stopped after the surgery except for the diarrhea and inflammation, but I decided that I had to do something to insure my improved health and get it back to normal as nearly as possible. Anyway, I had always loved participating in sports, (before getting sick) so I started a regiment of daily exercise. I walked, ran, rode bicycle, started playing softball again, did water/snow skiing, and even took up weight lifting. After all, I was sore and just skin and bones after the surgery. I just didn’t want to feel healthier; I wanted to look healthier too. You know what, the more active I became the more active I felt, and the more I felt like doing more and more things!

I do, even to this day experience some symptoms of Crohn’s disease (who doesn’t), but for all practical purposes I’m able to Control them. I’m nearly sixty and am able to do everything I could do in my twenties! What is one of the key secrets? I believe its daily exercise. Lately I’ve done some research on the effects of exercise on Crohn’s Disease and this is what I’ve found.

In an article written by Mayo Clinic staff members, it is emphasized that stress can be linked to Crohn’s Disease flare-ups, but this can be controlled with exercise. “Although stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s Disease, it can make your signs and symptoms much worse, and may trigger flare-ups. Stressful events can range from minor annoyances to a move, job loss or the death of a loved one. When you’re stressed, your normal digestive process changes. Your stomach empties more slowly and secretes more acid. Stress can also speed or slow the passage of intestinal contents. It may also cause changes in intestinal tissue itself.”

The article goes on to say that exercise is a way to reduce stress. “Exercise, Even mild exercise can help reduce stress, relieve depression and normalize bowel function.”

In an article written in NewsCanada it says that Crohn’s Disease sufferers with bouts of abdominal discomfort can improve their health as well as their mood with exercise. A leading gastroenterologist Dr. Brian Bressler practicing in Vancouver said “Not only is exercise safe for Crohn’s patients, it can be quite beneficial, it helps reduce stress and improves your sense of well-being.” Dr. Bressler goes on to say “A low-intensity walking program has been shown to improve overall quality of life in Crohn’s patients without increasing symptoms.”

In conclusion Dr. Bressler states that with the available treatments currently available Crohn’s patients can function almost normally and can pursue the sport or fitness activity of their choice. “We have professional hockey players with Crohn’s.” Dr. Bressler notes. So no, you don’t have to be a prisoner to Crohn’s Disease, but you do have to get busy and start taking your life back with exercise and physical activity.