Exercises That Increase Bowel Movements

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February 28, 2009, last Updated January 20, 2013

By Susan M. Callahan, Health Editor and Featured Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other
members of our Editorial Board.]



In a way, bowel movements are the single most important
body function that most of us never think carefully about.  We
all know our cholesterol counts, our blood pressure, even our
blood sugar levels.  But few of us know the basic information
we need to know to keep waste from building up in our bodies.
It's as if we spent our life savings decorating our house but we
never bother to take the trash out. Not smart.

And yet, the absence of bowel movements --- constipation ---
is a chronic problem in Western societies, according to
numerous studies. Western diets, heavy in starch and low in
vegetable and fiber content, coupled with sedentary lifestyles
are the main culprits. A 2004 study from the University of
Michigan Division of Gastroenterology estimates that 63 million
people in North America suffer from constipation.

If you've read our other articles on healthy bowels (see
Conditions: Constipation), you know that bowels movements
need 3 things to occur: water, fiber and oil.  But they also need
a 4th element ---regular exercise.  Several research studies
have found a strong positive correlation between vigorous,
regular exercise and regular bowel movements.






















One important
mega-study conducted by Oxford University
examined various other studies involving 20,630 men and
women. What they found in this "study of studies" is that
women have fewer bowel movements than men, that women
are less likely than men to have a daily bowel movement, that
eating vegetables increases your bowel regularity, that people
who eat meat are far more constipated, and that
vigorous
exercises helps to move your bowels.
 

They also found that, among men, drinking alcohol helps to
move bowels more than it does in women, but that's another
topic.



What kinds of exercises help to increase bowel movements and
bowel frequency?  First, the exercise must be regular.
Occasional exercises are better than none at all but regular
exercise works best. Intensity counts also.

Here from a survey of existing research and our readers and
staff are the 5 best exercises that increase bowel movements:

1.  
Jump rope. Jumping rope for 20 minutes to half an hour
every day helps to increase blood flow to the entire body,
including the intestines. The up-and-down movements can be
hard on your legs if you are out of shape, and hard on your
knees if you are overweight.  Try jumping without the rope
just a little bit off the floor on a carpeted floor  exercise mat.
This will soften the impact on your knees.

2.
Brisk walking. Briskly walking 35 to 45 minutes a day was
cited by most of our readers as the single best exercise for
bowel movements. The emphasis is on brisk walking. Strolls
help our general health, helping to
lower blood pressure and
sugar levels as you know from other articles we have done, but
brisk walking helps most to move the intestinal tract. Stride out
long and strong, shoulders back and arms swinging. You don't
have to hit the ground hard. Just glide briskly.

[Update:

One way that exercise helps to move your bowels is by
shortening the total transit time. For example, a 2005 study,
from the  University Medical Centre in Utrecht, The Netherlands
looked at the effect of exercise on chronic constipation
experienced by middle-aged men and women. The study
examined 43 patients all over the age of 45 who suffered from
"idiopathic" constipation, meaning doctors could not figure out
what exactly was causing their constipation.  Remarkably, after
just 12 weeks of physical activity, the participants suffered
significantly less constipation.

The average time it took for food to pass through their
digestive tracts shortened from 79.2 hours to 58.4 hours ---
almost a full day less. What form of exercise did the trick?
Simply walking briskly for 30 minutes a day and doing an 11
minutes home-based exercise program.]

3.
Yoga.  Two poses in particular are effective in moving the
bowels. The first is the cross over leg stretch. Lie on your back.
Raise your left leg and cross it over the right leg.  When you
finish your left leg should form a big "T" with your right leg.  
Don't worry of you're not flexible enough to make a true T.
Just start.  You will feel a slight stretch in your hip. Now. Do the
other leg.  Repeat 5 times on each leg.

The other pose which helps bowel movement and also erectile
dysfunction is the
warrior pose.  The reason it works is that it
is form of squat.   

4.
Lunges.  Lunging principally works your thigh muscles. Bu a
secondary benefit is that they also move your intestines as you
dip lower into the lunge.  Remember, the intestines are over 25
feet long in an average adult, and when you bend deeply, you
are stretching about a third of your intestinal tract. So, do at
least 5 deep plunges every other day.

5.
Squats. There's a reason we go to the bathroom while in a
natural seated position. Squatting aligns more of the intestinal
tract downward. However, merely sitting in this position is
ineffective. You have to do "three-quarter squats" to move
your bowels. To do a three-quarter squat, bend down half as
far as you would bend to sit in a chair.

Bonus Tip

6.
Bicycle Crunch.  As the top picture shows, the bicycle crunch
is an intense crunch which works your entire abdomen. It also
gently moves your intestinal tract from side to side and
facilitates bowel movements.

7.
Abdominal Massage Increases Bowel Movements. The use of
abdominal massage was once accepted practice as a way to
increase bowel movements. Recent studies have confirmed that
abdominal massage can indeed improve the amount of  bowel
movements you have. A 2009 study from the Department of
Nursing, Umeå University in Umeå, Sweden examined 60 people
with constipation. The 60 people were divided in to 2 groups.
One group received laxative. The second group received
laxative and abdominal massage. After 4 weeks and after 8
weeks, the group receiving abdominal massage has less
constipation.

As the study concluded: "Abdominal massage decreased
severity of gastrointestinal symptoms, especially constipation
and abdominal pain syndrome, and increased bowel
movements. "



Find out more ways to improve your bowel health: Bowel
Movements Indicate Your Overall Health  / 3 Keys to Normal
Bowels  /  The Bowel Color Chart--What The Color Means /
Why Americans Read In Bathrooms-The Hidden Epidemic of
Constipation  /Acolic Stools -Causes and Cures / Child
Constipation -Top 10 Natural Remedies

More Interesting Links:
Diet and Exercise-A Simple Plan

Snoring Increases Your Risk of Stroke 67%

Six Pack Abs--Step By Step

Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure

Foods That Shrink Your Waist

Owning a Cat Reduces Risk of Stroke 40%


DIETS AND FITNESS

BOWEL MOVEMENTS

INTESTINES-KEEP THEM
HEALTHY

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH
SALT

HOW MUCH SALT IS IN MY
FOOD

SALT CONTENT OF COMMON
FOODS

150,000 DIE FROM EXCESS
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I HAVE HIGH BLOOD
PRESSURE!

FOODS THAT LOWER YOUR
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INFLAMMATION INSIDE
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FAT--IT'S ALIVE!

WHY WE GO SOFT IN THE
MIDDLE

WHY EUROPEANS ARE
THINNER

>VEGETARIAN RECIPES


MY HEART ATTACK

CANCER SURVIVORS
BRAIN HEALTH

>CROSSWORD
PUZZLES
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