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When Eating Healthy & Exercising, How Many Bowel Movements Should You Have a Day?

By Sharon Therien ; Updated April 18, 2017

An exact number of times you should have a bowel movement each day does not exist. In fact, some people don’t normally have them every day. It is common for one person to have one or more a day while someone else might have one every two to three days. If your bowel movements have decreased for an extended period of time, see your doctor to find the cause.

Fiber

Fiber is the part of your diet that mainly affects the health of your bowel movements. Fiber adds substance to your bowel movements and helps waste move out of your body. Eat foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains to include fiber in your diet. Drink enough water, otherwise the fiber could actually cause constipation. Conversely, reduce the amount of foods without fiber in your diet. Processed foods, dairy products and other foods that have more fat and sugar than fiber can cause constipation or worsen it.

Exercise

Regular exercise can encourage your intestines to work properly, helping your bowel movements stay regular. For a healthy system, the recommendation is 150 or more minutes of moderate exercise per week. Choose exercise you enjoy, which could include yoga, walking, jogging, swimming or dancing.

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Special Populations

According to a February 2004 study in "Public Health Nutrition," different populations tend to experience varying numbers of bowel movements. Men tend to have more bowel movements than women. Vegetarians and vegans have more bowel movements than meat eaters. Intense exercise seems to cause more bowel movements in women than men. Drinking alcohol caused men in the study to have more bowel movements but this did not affect women in the same way. Further, people with higher BMIs, who drank more liquids and who ate more fiber had more bowel movements regardless of their sex.

Inconsistencies

If you find you have trouble passing a bowel movement, it is painful or you haven’t had one in longer than usual, you might be constipated. There are many reasons for constipation, including diet, lack of exercise, medication or a medical condition. On the other side, if a bowel movement moves too quickly through the large intestines, you can have diarrhea. If irregular stools are a recurring problem for you, see your doctor to find out the cause.

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