The last Quick Question blog answered the conundrum of why exercise makes you need to poo, so now let’s figure out how to stop it! Can you stop the runner’s trots or exercise induced pooping? What can you do to prevent the diarrhoea that exercise can cause? Here are a few simple tips that will help you reduce the need to poo when you exercise:
Digest well. Chew your food properly to break it into smaller chunks for easier digestion and allow enough time after you’ve eaten before you exercise – this may be up to three hours after a meal for some people.
Choose your foods. Pick your pre-exercise food carefully. Keep a diary to work out what triggers your bowel. It may be what you ate the day before. Rich, spicy and very fibrous foods can be the culprits.
Watch your drinks. Alcohol the night before exercise can upset your bowels and so can caffeine which acts as a stimulant to the gut. That morning espresso might help your performance but it can also speed up your gut.
Train your gut. Suddenly increasing your distance, frequency or intensity of exercise can upset your bowel. Making steady, gradual changes helps your gut to adjust. If you’re a runner cranking up your distance, then add on only a couple of miles each week.
Warm up. Make time for a warm up. Start with a slow walk and gradually get brisker before adding in any speed or jumps. Your bowel might appreciate being woken up slowly rather than thrown into high intensity exercise.
Consider your fuel. Many people find sports supplements upset their gut, They’re often highly concentrated and some contain caffeine too. Experiment with normal food such as home-made energy bars, bananas and bagels.
Calm down. Check the previous Quick Question and you’ll see that tension and nerves are a top cause of the exercise trots so find a quiet space to relax before events. Take deep breaths and focus your mind on positive thoughts; listening to music can help.
Be prepared. Stick a packet of tissues in your pocket in case of disaster; there’s rarely any left in the portaloos. Plan a toilet stop on your route for extra security.
It really is a case of practice makes perfect and trial and error. We’re all different and what works for one of us won’t work for another. Do share your tips, tricks and experiences in the comments and on my social media.
There are more answers to questions like these and lots of health information to help you lead a happy and active life in my book Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health. Published by Bloomsbury and awarded First Place in the Popular Medicine category at the British Medical Association Medical Book Awards 2018.
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