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Anyone that has suffered from constipation knows that it can be more problematic than a lot of people think. I had a friend that was sometimes curled up in a fetal position holding her belly when suffering from this issue.
Though it’s not a 100% remedy all by itself, cycling actually offers many surprising benefits in helping to ease and prevent constipation.
9 reasons that cycling helps with constipation are:
- Cycling stimulates bowel movement
- Cycling stretches the muscles of the lower abdominal and hip area
- It prompts you to drink more water to rehydrate
- Cycling is good cardio
- Cycling induces deep breathing
- Helps improve posture
- Boosts your body’s metabolism
- It reduces blood pressure
- It reduces stress
Let’s take a look at these 9 reasons and how they work.
Top 9 Reasons Why Cycling Combats Constipation
1. Cycling Stimulates Bowel Movement
Engaging in low-impact cardio exercises such as cycling gets your body moving enough to stimulate your bowel movements.
This is due to the increased breathing and heart rate, which are catalysts for the contraction of intestinal muscles.
When you ride a bicycle, the pedaling motion of your legs helps with gas release and relieves constipation. Since you can also adjust the amount of effort exerted when cycling, a slow and steady pace to your pedaling can massage your abdomen.
Once your abdomen gets stimulated enough, it’ll be easier for your system to pass the stool naturally.
It’s best to have at least 150 minutes worth of low to high-impact aerobic exercises every week to prevent constipation and promote a healthy body.
You can spread that evenly throughout the week by doing 30 minutes a day for five days each week.
You can also try the following aerobic exercises, all of which are designed to alleviate constipation worries.
- Jumping jacks
- Squat to jab
- Jogging in place
- Lateral lunges or shuffles
2. Cycling Stretches the Muscles in the Lower Abdominal and Hip Area
Constipation is often (though not always) a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Your body needs a certain amount of flexibility to maintain the efficient circulation of waste products.
The muscles involved in digestion are the lower abdominal and hip area. If there’s tension in these muscles, you’ll have a harder time trying to pass stool, resulting in constipation.
Cycling is a great exercise to stretch these muscles as you stay in a constant pedaling motion.
This helps your muscles relax so digestive functions can be at ease.
For maximum constipation relief through exercise, it’s also a good idea to pair cycling with the following stretching exercises for better circulation:
|Stretches||How Long or Many|
|Leg swings||Ten times each leg|
|Heel-toe walk||30 to 60 seconds|
|Dynamic runner’s lunge||Five to eight times per leg|
|Butt kicks||30 to 60 seconds|
|Active squat||30 to 60 seconds|
If you’re looking for any more exercises to try to alleviate the symptoms of constipation, then I found this brilliant Youtube video from Michelle Kenway that demonstrates some excellent ones:
3. Cycling Prompts You to Drink More Water to Rehydrate
One of the potential reasons why you have constipation is a lack of water intake.
Not only does this cause dehydration, but it also makes it difficult for your body to digest food.
Without much water to work with, your large intestine will start to drain water from food waste to compensate. This, in turn, creates tough stools which are harder to pass and excrete.
Whenever you ride a bike, your body sweats and uses water, causing you to be thirsty. Therefore, the more you engage in such a physical activity, the more urges you’ll have to replenish your fluids by drinking more water.
However, it’s still important to be well-hydrated before you start the exercise. Otherwise, you might end up draining your body even further when you already lack water in the first place. (Not a good situation to be in!)
Try to get at least 8 to 10 glasses of water each day to ease and prevent constipation. You’ll be doing your large intestine a huge favor in doing so.
4. Good Cardio Exercise
Workouts or exercises that target your cardiovascular system are aerobic exercises that do wonders for your whole body and have positive knock-on effects on your digestive system.
These aerobic exercises include the following:
- Running or jogging
- Jump rope
Cardio exercises such as the abovementioned promote a healthy digestive system and help prevent constipation.
By moving your legs in a cycling motion, you trigger your gut muscles to function properly.
As a result, food digests better, and your bowel movements are more at ease.
The inclusion of cycling into your daily exercise routine not only helps improve your health but also manages any irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or constipation symptoms.
However, it’s best not to partake in these cardio exercises right after eating, as it could lead to indigestion, or further upset your stomach.
Cycling is a good cardio exercise that stimulates pooping, so don’t be surprised if you feel the urge to do so during the act! This only means that the activity is doing its job to aid your digestive system.
5. Induces Deep Breathing
Moderate to high-intensity cycling sessions require you to breathe more deeply. Sometimes all it takes is an effective deep breathing exercise to keep you from relying on laxatives when your bowels are out of control.
While laxatives are safe and effective for treating constipation, too much use can lead to dependency on the medicine. It’s best to engage in healthy physical activities such as cycling for a natural cure and prevention of constipation – at least as the first port of call.
After a while of cycling, you’ll notice that you’re running a bit short on air due to the effort your body is exerting. That’s when deep breathing exercises are necessary to cope with physical activity.
When you decide to take a quick break from cycling, you can add diaphragmatic breathing to help you recover and relax more. To do this:
- Sit comfortably without slouching your back.
- Place one hand on your belly and another on your upper chest.
- Breathe with your belly by inhaling through the nose. You’ll feel your stomach expand as you inhale.
- Gradually exhale through your mouth.
- Repeat until you catch your breath.
Diaphragmatic breathing is an effective way of internally massaging your abdomen. Not only does this help with exercises, but also constipation.
6. Helps Improve Posture
Did you know that posture directly affects your body’s capacity to digest food? If not, you might want to sit up straight while you read this part.
When you slouch or have your body hunched, you increase your risk of having constipation. This is because your body’s position compresses the organs in your abdomen area.
The more compression occurs, the less effective your gastrointestinal system becomes, reducing peristaltic function.
These are the corresponding symptoms:
- Acid reflux
- Chest pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Distention of the stomach
Regularly riding a bike can help correct your posture by improving your balance and coordination.
Since you have to work on your balance while cycling, it forces you to square your hips and keep your balance throughout the activity.
The more you get used to the stance and motion needed in cycling, the more it becomes second nature. You’ll be able to maintain such posture even when standing, walking, or sitting.
Once you develop a good posture, you’ll effectively lessen the chances of constipation.
If you really want to optimize your cycling posture, then this Youtube video from the GCN shows you exactly how to do that:
7. Boosts Your Body’s Metabolism
Riding a bike is a form of endurance training that temporarily boosts your metabolic processes. Similar to how cars need gasoline for fuel, your body uses your fats as a fuel source with each pedal.
Since cycling is an effective exercise for weight loss, you burn more calories the longer and more intense your sessions are. The more calories you burn, the higher your basal metabolic rate (BMR) becomes at rest.
If you have a high BMR, your body’s systems can function better. This means your digestive processes will do a better job at passing stool.
Constipation can be a sign of slow metabolism, so if you’re looking for an effective exercise to get it back on track, cycling can do the trick.
8. Reduces Blood Pressure
A person with high blood pressure levels often experiences constipation as a side effect.
This is either caused by the high blood pressure itself or the medications you need to take to lower your blood pressure.
It’s always recommended to incorporate regular exercise to help maintain your blood pressure. A good cardio exercise such as riding a bike is just what you need to boost your cardiovascular health.
Cycling helps the heart pump blood freely to the rest of your body’s systems so they can function effectively. This means your digestive system can focus more on breaking down food to pass stool more efficiently.
9. Reduces Stress
If you think stress is just an emotion, you’d be surprised at how much it can affect your overall health. Did you know that stress directly affects your bowel movements?
Depending on how much stress you’re going through, the more mental strain your brain is subject to have. Since your nervous system is connected to the rest of your body’s systems, it plays a vital role in keeping your digestive system intact.
Therefore, you have a higher risk of constipation whenever you feel butterflies in your stomach due to stress.
On to the good news, physical activities such as cycling can effectively reduce stress. It does this by releasing endorphins, also known as feel-good hormones, throughout your body.
The more endorphins your body has, the less you’ll feel anxious due to stress.
Nobody likes constipation! It disrupts all your daily routines, plus it sometimes causes unbearable pain.
That’s why it’s necessary to adopt a healthy lifestyle by being more active. Hopefully, this motivates you to get on a bike and do your body a huge favor!