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Exercise Helps Ease Irritable Bowel Symptoms

FRIDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Increasing one's physical activity routine can help improve symptoms among irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients, Swedish researchers report.

Vigorous activity can also help keep IBS symptoms from worsening among such patients, the researchers said.

The authors noted that IBS is a disease that affects between 10 percent to 15 percent of people around the world, and is typically characterized by abdominal pain/discomfort, constipation, diarrhea and bloating.

The current observations stem from a small study of 102 IBS patients between the ages of 18 and 65.

Over a three-month period, half of the participants maintained their normal lifestyle, while the other half was randomly assigned to increase their physical activity, with a suggested goal of moderate to vigorous activity three to five times per week for 20 to 30 minutes a session. Both groups received telephone support from a physiotherapist.

At the study onset and at the end of the three-month period, the participants ranked their IBS symptoms, including abdominal pain, stool difficulties and overall quality of life.

While the group that maintained their normal routine experienced an average 5-point drop in symptoms, those who increased their activity experienced much more dramatic symptom relief (an average 51-point decrease), the researchers noted.

What's more, during the study period only 8 percent of the active group went on to develop worsening symptoms, as compared with nearly one-quarter of the maintenance group.

The Swedish team, led by registered physiotherapist Elisabet Johannesson from the University of Gothenburg, reports their findings online and in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

More information

For more on irritable bowel syndrome, visit the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

-- Alan Mozes

SOURCE: University of Gothenburg, news release, Jan. 25, 2011

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