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Gastroenterol Nurs. 2001 May-Jun;24(3):129-37.

Does a physically active lifestyle improve symptoms in women with irritable bowel syndrome?

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Department of Psychology, Seattle Pacific University, WA 98119, USA.


It has been proposed that physical activity moderates physiological or psychological responses to chronic conditions. The purpose of this study was to determine if women with a chronic functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, had less active lifestyles than healthy controls and to test whether active women with irritable bowel syndrome had less severe recalled or daily reports of GI, psychological, and somatic symptoms than inactive women with irritable bowel syndrome. Questionnaires were used to measure GI and psychological distress and somatic symptoms in 89 women who participated in this study. A daily symptom and activity diary was kept for one menstrual cycle. Women with irritable bowel syndrome were significantly less likely to be active (48%) than control women (71%) (X2 = 3.4, p = .05). Within the irritable bowel syndrome group, active women were less likely to report a feeling of incomplete evacuation following a bowel movement than inactive women (p < .04), yet active women did not have less severe recalled psychological or somatic symptoms than inactive women. Active women with irritable bowel syndrome reported less severe daily somatic symptoms, which were accounted for by a lower level of fatigue (p = .003), but not daily GI or psychological symptoms. These results suggest that physical activity may produce select symptom improvement in women with irritable bowel syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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