Fitness and constipation can sometimes seem to go hand in hand. If you are reading this, you know the drill...you go to go, and....nothing. Good news, you can stop doing ab crunches on the toilet and find relief in today's BodyRock news.
Constipation. It’s frustrating, uncomfortable and often painful. Many women who exercise regularly often complain that constipation seems to be one of the only negative side effects of a consistent workout routine, but is it really exercise that causes it? Let’s break it down.
How often do ‘normal’ people poop?
Great question. Establishing a benchmark here is not as straightforward as it might seem. The textbook definition of what being ‘regular’ means is quite wide ranging. According to doctors, you can consider your poop frequency to be in the normal range if you go anywhere from 3 times per day, all the way to having 3 bowel movements per week.
These number ranges aren't particularly helpful if you are feeling uncomfortable with your own frequency. Personal comfort is really the key indicator of constipation. If you are feeling uncomfortable with the quality and cadence of your excrement discharges (I’m breaking out some poop synonyms because I can’t keep writing the word ‘poop’), then chances are you can count yourself constipated. It’s important to pay attention to the quality of your defecations, because being left feeling ‘full’ or partially relieved, is a clear sign that you are bound up.
Going ‘number two’ on a schedule.
Without realizing it, many of us actually release our fecal matter on a fairly consistent schedule. This might be when you first wake, at 2:17pm every other day, or whenever the rhythm of your body decides its time. New routines, or disruptions to your daily patterns can throw a monkey wrench into your feces flow, which is why many of us experience BM disruptions when we travel. Ask yourself if you have changed anything up recently that might be impacting your regularity.
Side note. My Dad poops every morning before work, but found that he doesn't need to on his weekends off. Your welcome Dad!
Fiber is your friend.
In otherwise healthy people, the most common cause for having to brace and push, is diet.
Most American diets are pitifully low in fiber, fresh veggies and fruit. This lack of fiber is 100% preventable with some dietary tweaks. According to the American Heart Association, the daily value for fiber is 25 grams per day on a 2,000 calorie diet for adults. If you are eating more than 2,000 calories per day, up the amount of your fiber intake.
To break that down by sex, women under 50 should aim for 21-25 grams of fiber per day, and men under 50 should be getting 30-38 grams per day.
The average American is only getting 16 grams of fiber per day. How much are you getting?
These are minimum suggested amounts. Higher fiber intakes, which are common in other countries around the world, may significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Fiber does a lot more than just help you lay cable. Fiber supports weight loss, it reduces cholesterol and blood sugar levels, it lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease. Fiber also helps prevent diabetes, increases digestive and overall bowel health, and it fuels healthy gut bacteria.
The best sources of fiber are vegetables, fruits and plant based foods.
Tight Rectum muscles.
We had never heard of this either, but if you are experiencing painful constipation, you might suffer from tight rectum muscles. If this is the case, no matter how hard you seemingly push, nothing is coming out. The only way to fix tight rectum muscles is with physical therapy, but that, fortunately, is another article.
Medication can make it worse.
Medications for pain, blood pressure, depression and anxiety can make constipation worse. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men by generalized anxiety disorder, and are therefore more likely to be experiencing medication related constipation.
Can constipation run in the family?
It’s common for entire families to suffer from constipation. Researchers haven’t been able to figure out the causes for this yet, but certain people (and groups of people) seem to be more susceptible to constipation than others.
High protein diets.
This is where the majority of fitness enthusiasts experience the pain of poop impediment.
Keto diets are well known for blocking up the plumbing. Consuming mostly fats and proteins means that you most likely have a serious fiber deficit, which as we now know will make being regular extremely difficult. Taking certain protein supplements can cause serious bouts of no-go, which is frustrating for people who are trying to support their strength training, lean muscle development and weight loss with increased protein. Finding a balance is key. In this case, add more fiber to your diet. Drinking more water can also help to soften your stool, making passing feces easier and less painful.
This can go either way. Feeling anxious or stressed out tends to make people go more frequently, or it can seize things up. Pay attention to where your mood and emotional state are when you experience constipation to see if there is a pattern or link.
Most people let go of their healthy routines when they travel. Travel can introduce new types of foods, and different eating times (especially if you are traveling to a different time zone). Water intake also tends to drop significantly when people travel. Moving less, and skipping regular workouts can also cause your bowels to slow down to a crawl. A good tip is to try boosting your fiber intake a few days before any planned trip to grease the wheel.
As you can see, constipation can be caused by a number of factors, and the best chance for relief is to take a multi-pronged approach to solving it. Get more fiber into your system, drink more water, pay attention to your mood, and move more. The great news is that exercise does not cause constipation, it can actually help to relieve it.
An achievable place to start for beginners.
If you need a place to get started with some constipation busting exercises and workout programs specifically designed for beginners, please check out our Introduction to Strength Training for Women Bootcamp on our streaming platform BodyRockPlus.com. In just 20 minutes a day, we will get you up and moving through our fat burning workouts. Our workouts are achievable if you are just starting out or its been years since you've exercised with purpose. The first 7 days are absolutely free, and you can cancel at anytime. We hope to see you there!
I am looking forward to working with you I need accountability I do have poop problems and wish to fix it .