Studies have shown that regular exercise or participation in sports activities benefits patients, promotes their wellbeing, has a positive impact on the course of the disease and on overall health.
This means that physical activity helps you cope better with the disease and considerably improves the quality of your life. It is important to know the limits of your activity level which you should not push. Already after a few weeks of regular training, you will be rewarded with the positive effects of the exercise. You will feel stronger, fitter; you will become more resilient and ready to deal with your Crohn’s disease.
Find the right sports activity that fits your needs
Discover how exercise and physical activity, despite Crohn’s disease, enriches your everyday life! Let your desires and needs guide you and try out what suits you. Participation in sports that you enjoy – whether alone, in pairs or in a group – will soon lead to your first achievements. This will motivate you and ensure a long-term activity.
In general, you should customise sport or exercise programs according to your interests. Ideally, talk to your doctor and find out which kind of sports activity he/she would advise for you.
Good exercise choices are: walking, fitness, guided workout, dancing, ball games, swimming, jogging or yoga.
Listen to your body
Exercise and sports activities can benefit Crohn’s disease. You will have to modify your workout routine and adjust it to your individual abilities, as only finding the right balance can produce positive results and thus ensuring not only physical strength but also mental stability. Sports activities help ease discouragement, improve your cardiovascular health and consequently strengthen your immune system.
Moderate, low-impact activities also help improve physical and mental health.
Find an activity that you enjoy doing and that best suits you. It is important that you take enough breaks or have enough rest and that integrating exercise in your daily routine does not cause additional stress.
In Crohn’s disease, the absorption of nutrients is impaired, which can result in magnesium and iron deficiency. The lost nutrients must be replaced, especially if you have recently started your exercise regimen. Because of your engagement in regular exercise, your body needs more nutrients and you may need to take additional dietary supplements, which you should discuss with your treating doctor.
What should I keep in mind when exercising: medicines, surgery and stoma
Exercise and physical activity have a positive effect on your Crohn’s disease. However, you should keep in mind the following: in acute or severe aggravation of the disease, exercise engagement is recommended only to a certain extent. Do not push yourself too hard. Take enough breaks and allow your body to rest.
Immediately after surgery, you should avoid exercising in order not to put the healing process at risk. After surgery, you can gradually work your way up, beginning with low-impact physical exercise (e.g. walking). In case of abdominal surgery, a longer exercise-free period is necessary to avoid post-operative hernia. Less appropriate are exercises that put a heavy strain on the abdominal wall and abdominal muscles as they can cause damage (such as weight lifting).
Patients with a stoma can normally engage in sports activities as the stoma bag can be hidden under clothing; the biggest barrier is in the patient’s head. With the exception of martial arts and perhaps skiing, all sports activities are recommended, such as cycling, volleyball, tennis, yoga, pilates.
No matter which sports activity you choose, you should always consider your abilities! Start with low impact intervals, then work your way up slowly if your body can tolerate it and carefully plan breaks. Always set yourself realistic goals. You will notice that with the right level of activity you will improve your health and help your body to better cope with Crohn’s disease.