When it comes to improving digestion and correcting constipation, diet, supplements, and functional medicine are often discussed. However, what not many know is that there are other factors that can help us release our intestines naturally and alleviate the constipation that had been following us for years.
Below we will outline certain ideas that focus on movement and how it affects our overall health, including digestion. The simple truth is that sometimes when we have a hard time emptying our bowels, going for a walk or constantly exercising may be all you need to stimulate a bowel movement or relieve constipation.
Movement is absolutely essential in life
Movement is what allows us to move from A to B, express the fullness of our physiology, and keep our bodies healthy.
In the modern world, people remain largely immobile and sedentary, and we have lost our connection to our natural forms of movement.
We have shut ourselves in, just like a captive animal. We are no longer hunting in the fields, gathering or farming. These days most of us are stuck behind a desk, hunched over our computers and glued to screens.
This lifestyle comes at a great price. Much research continues to be done, linking this chronic condition with many modern diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, and type II diabetes.
And it also wreaks havoc on our postures. Look around you and you will quickly notice lowered heads, rounded shoulders, and hunched backs. The more time we spend on our computers and phones, the worse this problem seems to be.
Chronic sitting in these poor postures can also have a drastic effect on other bodily functions such as our digestion. By maintaining poor posture, our head falls forward, shoulders are rounded, our rib cage is compressed, and our diaphragm is restricted.
We no longer breathe efficiently or allow the abdomen and diaphragm to fully expand. The lack of movement can lead to constipation pattern.
In addition, we are frequently anxious and chronically stressed, which puts our bodies in a sympathetic state (fight or flight mode) and prevents us from being in a parasympathetic state (rest and digest mode).
The combination of poor posture, shortness of breath, lack of movement / blood flow and stress can negatively affect our digestion leading to constipation.
Move every 45 minutes to relieve constipation
As a culture, we are increasingly aware that many of the problems we face are a direct result of the food we eat.
Many people have decided to stay away from processed and refined foods, toxic fats, and high sugar levels and notice significant improvements in their energy, mood, and digestion.
But just taking food into account will not get us too far. We have to consider how much we move and other lifestyle factors as part of the approach to achieving optimal wellness.
This is the case when it comes to digestion. There are some incredibly positive things you can do to optimize the breakdown of the food you eat, relieve constipation, and boost your immune system.
For example, a simple but highly effective recommendation: get up and move in specific and intentional directions every 30-45 minutes for a period of 2-4 minutes.
How to relieve constipation with specific exercises
Exercise decreases the amount of time it takes for food to move through the large intestine, improving the overall efficiency of the digestive tract. You don't need to run a marathon or lift heavy weights to reap the relief benefits of exercise - even the lightest activity can help get things moving.
Movement is your pass to free yourself from that prison that is sedentary lifestyle and lack of movement. The goal of this is to help you relieve your pain, restore your posture, and return to your natural forms of movement.
If you are willing to exercise more than just walking, the following exercises are designed with this goal in mind to help your bowel move more and relieve constipation.
Cow-cat yoga pose
Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are below your hips and your wrists are below your shoulders. Start in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs tight. Take a great deep breath.
On the exhale, round your spine towards the ceiling and imagine that you are pulling your belly button towards your spine, really catching your abs.
Tuck your chin toward your chest and release your neck. This is your cat form.
As you inhale, arch your back, let your belly relax and release. Raise your head and tailbone skyward, without putting unnecessary pressure on your neck. This is the cow pose.
Continue to flow back and forth from cat pose to cow pose, connecting your breath with each movement: inhale cow pose and exhale with cat pose.
Repeat for at least 10 rounds.
Downward facing dog yoga pose
This position is the perfect yoga posture for constipation because it stretches your entire body and releases tension. This can also help ease any buildup in the digestive tract, get things moving, and end constipation.
1. Start on all fours on the floor.
2. Tuck your toes underneath and straighten your legs, pushing down through your palms.
3. You should be making an inverted "V" at this point.
4. Keep your feet hip-width apart with your arms slightly wider at shoulder level.
5. Bend your knees very slightly and hold 10 deep breaths.
There are many yoga poses you can try, so don't limit yourself to just these two!
Aerobic exercises speed up your breathing and increase your heart rate. As the blood flows, the intestinal muscles are stimulated and begin to contact each other to help move stool out quickly.
Any form of cardio is helpful in relieving constipation. Try Zumba, jogging, water aerobics, running, or even light walking. Try to do 30 minutes of cardio a day, but if you can't fit it all at once, try mini cardio sessions throughout the day.
Try this 30 minute walking exercise:
1. Warm up: Walk at your normal pace for 5 minutes.
2. Main exercise: speed up the pace, walk briskly for about 25 minutes.
3. Cool down: slow down when you finish your hike. Do some gentle stretches to loosen up and relax your muscles.
Here are other exercises you can try:
· Jogging in place
· Jumping jacks
· Climb mountains
· Deep squats
When to exercise
The best time to combat constipation with exercise is about an hour after a big meal. After eating, blood flow to the stomach and intestines increases, helping the body in the digestion process.
When there is blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract, there are more digestive enzymes that help move food waste more quickly through the intestine. Digest your food first, then jump into your workout.
Fiber is a special type of carbohydrate that's not broken down by the body, so eating it doesn’t have any effect on . It also promotes digestive health and keeps you feeling fuller longer after a meal. Also, says Champion, because it slows the surge in blood sugar after a meal, it’s especially beneficial for people with diabetes.