Exercise Limitations With Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, the organ that produces the enzymes required to digest food. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, it may fail to produce these enzymes, causing your body to not absorb vital nutrients. The duration of a single bout of pancreatitis may vary widely, and the condition can be recurring 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Treating Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis has many causes, including alcoholism, gallstones and family history, to name just a few. Treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the condition.

Treatment over both the short term and the long term consists of pain management, enzyme supplements and dietary changes. After initial treatment, patients are advised to exercise, eat a low-fat diet, avoid alcohol and medications that raise triglycerides, and avoid blows or trauma to the stomach area. These recommendations make up the standards of care for pancreatitis 1.

Exercise With Pancreatitis

Exercising improves the overall functioning of the body as well as quality of life. In a healthy person, exercise affects each body system. However, exercising with pancreatitis is not recommended. In some cases, exercise can worsen this condition and slow down recovery. After the pancreas has returned to normal function, exercise may be a part of prevention as well as returning to a healthy lifestyle.

Exercise After Recovery

After the initial symptoms have decreased, you may begin walking 5-10 minutes twice a day with the goal of increasing your activity for 45 minutes up to three times each week. However, always follow the recommendation of your doctor as your level of physical activity may vary depending on your condition. If you are in too much pain to walk, stretching or isometric exercises are also good ways to incorporate some form of exercise into your daily activities. As much as possible, try to maintain normal daily activities and pursue hobbies that you enjoy and are able to do without pain.

Pancreatitis Precautions With Exercise

Although maintaining an active lifestyle is recommended, if you have had pancreatitis or are at risk for developing this condition, staying hydrated with exercise is a key area of concern 1. Reports have documented dehydration induced by vigorous exercise in healthy individuals. After exercise, these dehydrated individuals developed acute pancreatitis as a secondary result 2. Since dehydration may be a cause of this condition, maintaining adequate hydration before, during, and after exercise is an area of concern. While staying hydrated is important for everyone, anyone who has a history of pancreatitis should be especially careful when exercising.