Thursday, 26 June 2014

My Belly and Swimming

The usual rule is to wait one hour after eating before going swimming, right? Well, it appears that this rule doesn't apply when you have a sensitive and unstable stomach like mine.

About a year ago, I decided to start swimming a couple times a week. Because my local swimming pool is open late in the evenings on weekdays, I planned to go to the pool after work. At first, I tried going for a swim immediately after finishing work, but because I was often tired and hungry, I found that I didn't have the energy for swimming. Instead, I tried having dinner after getting home, then after waiting for an hour, going over to the pool for my swim. However, I quickly discovered that I would have trouble with my stomach while swimming, sometimes after only two or three laps. There have even been a few times when I have had hiccups while swimming, which, as I'm sure you can imagine, makes swimming very difficult! I have also quite often had problems with reflux, which would steadily get worse as I continued swimming.

After lots of trial and error, I worked out that my stomach needed closer to three hours' wait after eating - three times as long as the usual wait time needed for most people. I have also discovered that if I do start to have trouble with my stomach while swimming, it helps if I switch to swimming backstroke - I think this is because it takes the pressure off my stomach.

Have you had similar experiences while swimming? Please comment below.


We all know that in general, exercising is a good idea, and studies have found that this is consistent for those with IBS and IBD. In a 2011 study conducted at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, 43% of the 102 participants with IBS experienced a significant level of improvement in their symptoms after increased levels of exercise. The researchers concluded that this was because the exercise helped to aid digestion, and to relieve stress, thereby stabilizing the body’s hormonal systems. A more recent study conducted in Poland earlier this year looked at the effects of exercise for those with IBD, and had similar results. As well as relieving stress and improving overall health, researchers found that symptoms improved because the exercise helped to boost the immune system.

However, exercise can also be quite difficult for those with IBS and IBD. For example, this article published in the Telegraph discussed how British Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave has had to pull out of races due to problems with his Ulcerative Colitis. From personal experience, I can attest that when I am having a flare up with my UC or a stomach ache after eating, exercising is the last thing that I want to do! Some suggest that people with IBS or IBD may have a limit to how much exercise their body can endure.

Please comment below if you have any tips to share for exercising with IBS and/or IBD.

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