What is the role of activity modification in the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

Updated: Apr 10, 2020
  • Author: William A Rowe, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Generally, patients do not need to limit activity when IBD is quiescent. During disease flares, physical activity is limited only by the extent of fatigue and the abdominal pain or diarrhea the patient is experiencing. When abdominal pain persists beyond medical therapy­-induced resolution of the active inflammation, other causes of pain must be considered, including abscess, stricture, nephrolithiasis, IBS, and psychiatric disease.

In most instances, diarrhea limits activity primarily because of the lack of immediate access to toilet facilities in many locations and/or occupations. Dehydration may be an issue, often requiring IV hydration or the use of oral rehydration solutions.

Moderate to vigorous physical activity for as long as 12 weeks has been shown to improve symptom scores and many specific quality-of-life dimensions, including energy, sleep, emotion, and physical functioning. [118] This degree of activity was defined as 20-60 minutes of intense exercise 3-5 days per week. The improvements occur despite lack of change in body weight, oral-anal transit time, bowel movements per week, or stool consistency. This study also highlights that symptomatic deterioration is more likely in physically inactive individuals.

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