I've started running with Crohn's disease: here's how I've got on
I've tried lots of different forms of exercise over the years. I know keeping fit is good for me, for all sorts of reasons including helping me deal with anxiety and stress which I know can cause my Crohn's to flare.
Although intense exercise is not recommended when patients are in a bad flare (who would have the energy for that!), there has been some evidence that exercise can have a positive, or even preventative, impact on IBD.1 I've had no problem doing low-intensive exercises over the years-such as yoga and pilates, but I've always been anxious about more intensive forms such as running. For several reasons...
Why I am anxious about exercising with Crohn's disease
I've heard that runner's diarrhea is a thing for people who run regularly. I really don't need another reason for this so I've always been worried that running would make things worse for me.
Hydration and exercise
I'm worried about getting dehydrated- something we all know those of us with IBD are at risk from.
Low energy with Crohn's
I've just not felt like I have the energy for it.
Scar tissue irritation
I still have scar tissue from a fistula surgery and when I get sweaty this can get sore and irritated which isn't ideal.
Trying to run with Crohn's disease
With all these reasons in mind, I've avoided things like running but it's only recently I've discovered just how unfit I am and as I turned 35, I decided to do something about it. So with reluctance, I finally decided to give it a try.
I've been using Couch to 5k; a program that promises to take me from a sedentary lifestyle to running a 5k confidently in a month. I'm skeptical: it's the end of my first week so I have a long way to go but I thought I'd document how I get on here in case any fellow crohnie's are interested in trying it too.
More energy after running
Firstly, I couldn't believe how tough I found the first few runs which has perhaps shown me just how unfit I am! I'm surprised that they haven't actually had a negative impact on my fatigue like I thought they might-in fact, I have more energy, not less. Each run is getting a little bit easier and I'm actually getting excited to run.
Runner's diarrhea has not been a big issue
Secondly, despite my fears, I've not had runner's diarrhea (perhaps this is reserved for those who run long-distances rather than just around the block!). In fact, my belly has been really settled and calm since I started running which I'm not sure is coincidental or because I'm dealing with my stress. I've only had to make one uncalled toilet pitstops during running so far and, as I'm only running short-distances, it was fine.
The only symptom I have had is reflux: I suffer from this anyway but I've found gulping water as I run has worsened it. Hopefully, it's only a temporary thing and I'll adjust to it.
Running to deal with stress
Overall, I'm really glad I started running and I'm positive that it could help me deal with the stress that often causes my IBD to worsen. I'll keep sharing how I get on as the week's progress in the hope it helps those who are thinking of running too!
Does exercising regularly help in the management of your symptoms?