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Crohn's Disease Forum » General IBD Discussion » The importance of regular exercise?


01-26-2015, 05:38 PM   #1
lenny
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The importance of regular exercise?

I'm wondering what part exercise plays in getting in and staying in remission.

My son has been extremely inactive since getting diagnosed in 2013. He was in remission for about a year despite this (may of 13 to may of 14) on Pentasa and the SCD.

Then had a flare that got bad in Sept of 14'. Back into remission in October (fcp 24) with 20 mg steroids and a few days of Peptamen.

Put on MTX for maintenance, but started flaring about 2 to 3 weeks ago.
Just started EEN at 1 am this morning. Has drunk 3 of them so far. Poor kid!

I think exercise would help him. Does it help you? Thanks!
01-26-2015, 06:04 PM   #2
Cat-a-Tonic
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Exercise definitely helps me, although it is not enough on its own to keep me in remission. I had started exercising after I first got into remission back in 2011. I had lost a lot of muscle mass thanks to Entocort, so I started lifting weights. I started slowly and gradually as I didn't want to stress my body too much all at once. I started lifting light weights twice per week. That went well, so I went up three times per week and slowly increased the amount of weight I was lifting. I felt great for 2 years while I was in remission & exercising regularly (I mainly lift but I also do things like yoga and some cardio - I can't jog due to hip arthritis, it's too high impact and too painful, but I do things like ride my bike and that is fine on my bad hips).

In 2013, I fell out of remission and spent a year in a mild flare. I fell out of remission because they suddenly stopped making regular Asacol in the US, and I struggled to find another maintenance med that worked as well for me. During that time is when I entered a mild flare, and I stayed in that flare for about a year. I did continue to exercise during that time. I'm not sure, but I suspect that exercise at least played a part in keeping my flare mild. There were times that I wasn't able to exercise, but when I was able to then I hit the gym every chance I got.

Most of 2014 I spent back on Entocort trying to get out of the flare, still exercising the whole time. I haven't been off of Entocort for very long at this point, so I'm still not totally sure, but it's seeming like I might be back in remission again. I've had the flu since xmas so I haven't been exercising much lately (it's mainly respiratory symptoms which are affecting my ability to breathe properly, so I've mainly been doing yoga lately as it's difficult to do weights and cardio is just not happening). So 2015 is off to a bit of a rough start, but once I shake this flu, I should hopefully be in good shape guts-wise and fitness-wise.

So yes, in a nutshell, exercise has helped me. I feel like it helps me sleep better, it definitely helps me de-stress and deal with things much better. It's made me a calmer, happier person for sure. And as I said, it may have played some part in keeping my flare mild. Exercise has also definitely helped my arthritis - there's less pain and I think I've slowed the progression of it. And, maybe the most important thing - exercise lets me feel like a normal person! Most of the time, I have to be careful about things and watch what I eat and always keep my health issues on my mind, I always just feel like a sick girl. When I go to the gym, I feel powerful and strong and awesome - and normal. I only really have to be careful of my hips and my abdominals (if I do too much ab work then my acid reflux takes revenge on me). I don't feel like a sick girl when I'm in the gym, I just feel like a normal girl (or sometimes even an awesome powerful warrior woman), and that's an amazing feeling.

I would say to wait until your son is back in remission, but when he is, see what activities he would like to try - there's so much, especially this time of year there's ice skating and snowshoeing and skiing, etc. It doesn't have to be just strictly, go to a gym and do a workout - he could join a sports team or just go for a walk or whatever. There may be things that your son isn't able to do - jogging isn't something I'd personally recommend (even if he doesn't have arthritis, jogging can also jostle the guts and make things unhappy in there). Cardio in general is probably something best to avoid if he's underweight as that'll tend to do more for weight loss than it will for muscle-building. But don't box him in, let him pick what he wants to do. Me, I love ice skating in the winter and kayaking in the summer! Both are great workouts but just feel like fun. I think that's the key, he'll stick with something if he finds it fun - that's definitely the case for me. So have fun with it and don't push him too much, but do try to let him explore his various fitness options and find something he wants to do and has fun with. Good luck!
01-27-2015, 02:13 AM   #3
SarahD
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I'm in a flare right now and exercise is a real struggle for me. I have so little energy that getting through each day is a real struggle, let alone giving some of that energy over to exercising. I'm better during remission, and even though I don't have a regular workout regime I tried to exercise at least a couple of times a week. Some people struggle with their energy levels even when in remission so that's another consideration to make. I'd say encourage your son to exercise but don't push too hard. Crohn's can be an exhausting condition whether in remission or not.
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01-27-2015, 03:33 AM   #4
lenny
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I'm not going to push him. I was hoping to get a bunch of responses, so that he could see how exercise has helped others (or not).
01-27-2015, 07:42 AM   #5
DJW
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My doctor wants me walking everyday. Some days it's just around the house. Exercise is good for physical health but also mental health.

Sports have always been a major part of my life (ice hockey, cycling, softball, golf, etc.). I find sports very empowering.
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01-27-2015, 10:52 AM   #6
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Honestly I'm not sure what a full remission would be like. My doctors have never offered me medications to help manage. They did prescibe this powder stuff which I tried twice to no luck. Then they suggested Immodium. They told me basically lose weight. Easier said than done. I do have a gym membership and I can't say it makes the problem go away but I rarely get random poops at the gym. It helps they have a huge bathroom so mentally I don't worry about it and triggering a psychological flare. I think its more the massive amounts of water that's helping me. But the exercise helps me feel good in other ways.
01-27-2015, 11:43 AM   #7
The Real MC
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I try to stay active and it does help. I won't join a gym because the flare-ups will rob me of my energy/strength and that $$$ into the gym is wasted. Those places are breeding grounds for bacteria/viruses and I have enough trouble trying to stay healthy. When I build my house I am planning space for exercise stuff like free weights and treadmill.
01-27-2015, 02:07 PM   #8
lenny
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Good point about the germs!
01-27-2015, 02:42 PM   #9
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My gym is pretty good at wiping everything down. I wipe before and after I use. I figure its definitely cleaner than a Walmart shopping cart lol. Mine is only $10 a month so its not bad. But I have found that when I am having bad days now that I do try to be active they don't suck so much out of me. They used to feel like having food poisoning. Totally zap everything out of me.
01-28-2015, 01:45 AM   #10
Nancye50
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I'm pretty well manged on Humira. I can eat and drink almost anything I want. But I can NOT do high intensity exercise. Walking and yoga, yes. Running, swimming and even intense low impact cardio, no. Gives me that pre-flu feeling and stomach pain.
01-28-2015, 09:16 AM   #11
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Exercise is so so important both for physical health and strength, as well as mental health! When I'm feeling well, I am at the gym almost daily working out or teaching fitness classes and this helps me stay feeling good. During a flare, I may slow down my activity level and modify to do whatever I can handle, but I have learned that doing no activity not only makes me feel worse physically, but I also start to get depressed very easily. Exercise is one of my favorite stress relievers so without it, I have trouble staying positive. Do whatever you can tolerate, whether its a full hour long high intensity workout, or just a short walk around your house, anything is better than nothing!
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01-28-2015, 10:03 AM   #12
Cat-a-Tonic
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Like flypiggie said, I also belong to a gym that is only $10 per month, and I've never had any issue with germs or bacteria from the gym equipment/machines either. Full disclosure, my husband has had sporadic issues with the cleaning supplies they use in our gym, he seems to be allergic to something in the cleaning supplies they use in the locker rooms and sometimes he'll start sneezing a lot after a workout. BUT, neither of us has ever gotten sick from germs or bacteria in the gym. As long as you wipe things down, it's fine. And a Benadryl is all my hubby needs to get over one of his sneezing/allergy episodes, so that's not really a big deal either. It's not something that's stopped him from going to the gym. So I wouldn't worry too much about germs at the gym, I've been working out regularly for nearly 4 years and the gym has never once made me ill.
01-28-2015, 10:21 AM   #13
lenny
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I've never been a germaphobe, frown at the anti-bacterial wipes they offer near the grocery carts, but now that my son is on MTX I have a different outlook.

You know how they've done tests and found out door knobs are worse than toilet seats? Well, I'm curious about gyms and gym equipment.

We live near 2 gyms and they're both about $40 a month for a single person, which is not a problem if he would go.
01-28-2015, 10:37 AM   #14
Nancye50
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I think the issue at gyms is the particular infections found there in addition to common viruses like MRSA. This can be avoided by not only being vigilant in the gym area but the locker room too!
Showering at home & always washing everything after a workout would help. And having gym-only shoes.
01-28-2015, 10:42 AM   #15
lenny
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You just sold me on puchasing an elliptical!
01-28-2015, 02:22 PM   #16
Nancye50
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Hahaha, glad to hear it Lenny. I take pride in some of my more outrageous getups on my home elliptical. "Can't wear THIS to a gym, hahahaha!!"
01-28-2015, 06:10 PM   #17
The Real MC
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It's not just the germs on the equipment. It's the fungus on the locker room floors. Those can never be clean enough.
01-28-2015, 06:30 PM   #18
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I wouldn't walk around barefoot in a public place. I know mine even recommended flip flops in the showers even though they claim to spray a disinfectant every few hours. I have only showered there twice. I usually come home. But once I had things to do after and once was when our pipes froze. I wasn't about to try to cover with fresh deodorant, I was ripe lol.
01-29-2015, 05:04 PM   #19
Cat-a-Tonic
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I concur, I have never showered at my gym, I always go home and shower there instead. And I never have had my bare feet on the floor there either as I've had athlete's foot in the past and I know how easily that kind of thing (and worse) can be picked up in a public locker room. Honestly I don't even like to put my sock feet on the floor in the gym locker room so I don't often even do that! I also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in my gym bag and I sanitize my hands after I've touched surfaces or the locker or whatever in the locker room. So there certainly are common sense ways to stay healthy in the gym. It's not too bad.
01-31-2015, 10:27 AM   #20
Nancye50
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Regarding the exercise part of this thread, has anyone had success with just lifting weights, no cardio?
02-03-2015, 08:15 PM   #21
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I do weight training only my self. I do enough running around on my job. But to the OP, it certainly makes me feel better physically and mentally....it truly is meditating for me. But that's me. For some it may feel like a chore so doing that on top of feeling like crap from a flare up prob isnt the best idea. He's prob down on him self. Maybe there is something else that he could use to get him self out of the hole and then after that introduce gym.
02-03-2015, 10:02 PM   #22
Tuff
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When I'm flaring, I'm too fatigued to exercise. I have a treadmill, and am currently doing an hour's walk every day, about 3 km. I also lift weights. Four years ago I almost died of a pulmonary embolism (Crohn's patients are at increased risk of deep vein thrombosis) I think I survived because I was in good physical condition. I think it would be beneficial for him to get some exercise, if he's up to it, but start slowly. I blast music to make it less boring.
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02-05-2015, 02:05 PM   #23
Cat-a-Tonic
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Regarding the exercise part of this thread, has anyone had success with just lifting weights, no cardio?
I do mainly weight training. In a good week, I'll do 3-4 days of weights and maybe 1 of cardio and 1 of something else like yoga. So I do a bit of cardio but weights are definitely my favorite and the thing I do the most. I'm not sure what you mean by success, but I've definitely put on muscle and toned up from regular weight training. I've seen a few benefits from cardio, mainly that I have more stamina and lung capacity (or at least I did up until I got this respiratory flu at xmas and my lungs have been awful since).
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