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Exercise for Diverticulitis

By Crystal Welch ; Updated August 14, 2017

Diverticulitis occurs when pouch-like herniations, diverticula, along your gastrointestinal tract wall become infected or inflamed. In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, eating a high-fiber and low-fat diet, regular exercise plays a role in treating diverticulitis. Exercise can improve your intestinal as well as overall health. Check with your doctor prior to starting any exercise program.

Identification

Diverticulitis is a digestive disorder that occurs more commonly with age, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. The condition can be hereditary or be caused by intense pressure and strain on the colon wall during forced bowel movements, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Symptoms include intense abdominal cramping and tenderness, nausea, fever, impaired bowel functioning and possible rectum bleeding. Pain levels can be immediately severe or gradual. Colon cancer is not associated with diverticulitis.

Benefits

Exercise can benefit diverticulitis in many ways. Regular exercise stimulates intestinal activity, which helps regulate bowel movements and proper bowel functioning, according to MayoClinic.com. Decreased risk of diverticula formation is another exercise benefit, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Exercise can lower or even prevent the chances of developing age-related conditions, such as diverticulitis, according to the American Heart Association.

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Types

Different types of exercise can help your diverticulitis. Everyday activities such as rearranging furniture and/or cupboards, leaf raking, gardening or lawn mowing count. Other exercise types include water aerobics, rowing, dancing, activity-related video games such as tennis or snowboarding, tai chi and bicycling. Walking and swimming are recommended by MayoClinic.com to relieve constipation. Whatever type you choose, exercising 30 minutes on five or more days a week at a moderately brisk level is recommended by MayoClinic.com.

Considerations

Taking small steps assures exercise success, according to the American Heart Association. Start by exercising two to five minutes daily and gradually increase your time and intensity level as you become stronger. Find an activity or two that you enjoy since boredom diminishes enthusiasm and increases your chances of dropping out. Listen to music while exercising to increase the fun level, and look for opportunities throughout the day such as taking stairs instead of elevators.

Warning

Not all exercises are for everyone. Exercise programs need to be developed on an individual basis according to your age, medical condition, medications and current level of activity. If exercise causes pain and/or discomfort, stop immediately. Stay hydrated by drinking fluids throughout your exercise regime. Make certain to wear proper, loose-fitting clothing and well-fitting shoes, according to the American Heart Association. Do not exercise when you are too tired, immediately after eating, or in hot, humid weather.

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