An uplifting spirit and a healthy body often move hand in hand. Just as our minds sometimes require a gentle nudge to see the brighter side of things, our bodies may also need a little push to function optimally. Enter the realm of digestive health.
Smooth digestion is easy to take for granted. We often don’t think about what happens to our food after its taste has left our tongues. However, it’s something that will weigh heavily on your mind when things aren’t working properly.
Constipation isn’t a topic that often comes up in polite conversations, but it’s a fairly common issue. If you’re currently experiencing constipation and scouring the internet to find options for relief, then you’ve come to the right place.
Before we dive into all the different exercises that can help you, let’s learn a little bit more about constipation.
What Is Constipation and How Does It Affect Your Health?
Constipation is more than just an inconvenient hassle; it's your body's SOS signal that something within its internal ecosystem is out of balance. To fully understand constipation, we need to talk about the symptoms, causes, and potential consequences if left unaddressed.
Here are the common symptoms you may experience:
- Experiencing fewer than three bowel movements in a week
- Straining during bowel movements
- Passing hard or lumpy stools
- A sensation of obstruction or blockage in the rectum hindering regular bowel movements
It's critical to decipher and address the potential root causes behind constipation, which can be fairly diverse. These can include:
- A diet low in fiber
- Insufficient fluid intake
- Lack of physical activity or a sedentary lifestyle
- Certain medications or changes in medication
- Alterations in routine or travel
- Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
Not tending to chronic constipation can usher in unwelcome repercussions, such as:
- Development of hemorrhoids or anal fissures
- Fecal impaction, where hardened stool clogs the rectum, making it impossible to have a bowel movement
- Changes in mood, sleep quality, and social interactions
How Can Exercise Help Relieve Constipation?
One of the last things that you may want to do when you’re feeling constipated is to exercise. However, that’s a big mistake because exercise is a simple yet highly effective strategy for ridding yourself of constipation.
Exercise speeds up the metabolism and promotes a more efficient digestive system. Also, Physical activities cause natural contractions in the intestinal muscles that can help move the stool through the colon.
Exercise can also enhance circulation, ensuring better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to body organs, including the digestive system. Plus, more water is moved to your muscles, which helps soften stools and makes them easier to pass.
What Are the Best Exercises for Relieving Constipation?
Now that you know the benefits of exercising when constipated, let’s get into the most effective ones that you should try out first. It’s a good idea to include a few of these exercises into your daily routine even after you’ve taken care of your constipation.
1. Brisk Walking/Jogging
Brisk walking or jogging increases the heart rate and breathing, stimulating the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, which aids in moving the stool through the intestines.
- Begin with a five-minute warm-up walk at a moderate pace.
- Gradually increase your speed to a brisk walk or jog, ensuring you maintain a posture where your back is straight and arms are moving in tandem with your steps.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes daily, but if you’re a beginner, start with 10 to 15 minutes and gradually increase your time.
2. Pelvic Floor Exercises
Also known as Kegel exercises, they strengthen the muscles below the uterus (if you have one), bladder, and large intestine. Strengthening your pelvic muscles can aid in preventing and treating constipation.
- First, identify your pelvic muscles — they're the same ones you use to stop urinating midstream.
- Once located, tighten them and hold for a count of five, then relax for a count of five.
- Repeat this cycle 10 times, gradually increasing the duration of the contraction as you become more comfortable.
- Aim to do this exercise at least three times a day.
3. Aerobic Exercises
These exercises elevate your heart rate, thus increasing your breathing rate and stimulating the contraction of the intestinal muscles. Some of the most common examples include swimming, dancing, and cycling.
- Choose an aerobic activity you enjoy.
- Start slow, especially if you’re new, then gradually increase your intensity and duration.
- Aim for 30 minutes most days of the week, but remember, even 10 minutes can make a difference when starting out.
4. Pelvic Tilts
These target your abdominal muscles and can help strengthen your core and stimulate digestion.
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Tighten your stomach muscles, pushing your lower back into the floor.
- Hold this position for a count of 10, breathing normally, then relax.
- Repeat 10 times.
While not a specific exercise, the Pilates method is renowned for its focus on core strength, flexibility, and balance. Many of its movements emphasize the pelvic and abdominal areas, assisting in the stimulation of the digestive system.
- Start with a beginner’s Pilates class or online video.
- Some beneficial Pilates exercises for constipation include “The Saw,” “Leg Circles,” and “The Hundred.”
- Ensure you’re performing these movements under the guidance of a trained instructor initially, as form is crucial in Pilates.
An essential functional exercise, squats not only strengthen your legs and glutes but also improve the movement of the digestive tract. They mirror a natural position that aids in bowel movements.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out.
- Extend your arms in front of you for balance.
- Push your hips back and bend your knees, lowering your body into a squat position as if sitting in an invisible chair.
- Ensure your knees don’t extend past your toes.
- Hold briefly, then press through your heels to return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times.
7. Leg Raises
This exercise engages the abdominal muscles, promoting digestive processes and aiding in relieving constipation.
- Lie flat on your back with arms by your sides, palms facing down.
- Keeping your legs straight, slowly raise them to a 90-degree angle.
- Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower them back down without letting your heels touch the floor.
- Repeat 10 to 12 times.
8. Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This classic yoga pose stretches the back and legs while invigorating the digestive organs.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
- Inhale deeply.
- As you exhale, bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight.
- Try to touch the ground with your fingertips or palms.
- Let your head hang heavy and relax in this position for a few breaths.
- Inhale and slowly rise back to the standing position.
- Repeat three to five times.
9. Wind-Relieving Pose (Pawanmuktasana)
As the name suggests, this yoga pose is beneficial for expelling trapped gas in the digestive system, easing both bloating and constipation.
- Lie on your back with your legs extended.
- Inhale deeply.
- As you exhale, bend your knees and bring them towards your chest, hugging them with your arms.
- Lift your head off the floor, trying to touch your knees with your nose.
- Hold for a few breaths.
- Exhale, releasing your head and legs back to the starting position.
- Repeat three to five times.
10. Child's Pose (Balasana)
A restorative yoga pose, child's pose calms the body and mind while gently stretching the back and hips, stimulating the abdominal organs.
- Kneel on the floor, big toes touching, and knees spread apart.
- Sit back on your heels.
- Extend your arms in front of you and lower your torso between your knees.
- Rest your forehead on the ground.
- Relax in this position, taking deep breaths for a few minutes.
- To release, slowly sit back up, pulling your torso away from the thighs.
What Are Some Other Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Relieve Constipation?
Beyond incorporating more of the aforementioned exercises into your routine, there are specific lifestyle changes that can significantly help your efforts to alleviate and prevent constipation. These modifications, especially when combined, create a comprehensive approach to supporting smooth digestion.
Water plays a pivotal role in softening stools by making them easier to pass. On the other hand, dehydration can harden the stools, which leads to constipation. Drinking enough water throughout the day, especially after waking up and before meals, can help maintain regular bowel movements.
Focus on Fiber
Fiber adds bulk to stools, facilitating their movement through the digestive tract. Including both soluble and insoluble fibers in your diet from sources like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can make a noticeable difference in preventing and treating constipation.
Slowing down and being present during meals encourages better digestion. Chewing food thoroughly breaks it down into smaller particles, facilitating smoother digestion and preventing the buildup of undigested food that can lead to constipation.
Eat More Probiotic-Rich Foods
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that improve gut health. Foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi, can help support the gut's microbiota. A balanced gut flora can encourage regular bowel movements and ease discomfort from constipation.
The gut-brain connection is profound. Chronic stress can disrupt the natural rhythm of the digestive system, leading to constipation. Engaging in relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or even simple walks can mitigate stress and encourage healthier digestion.
Regular Meal Times
Eating meals at consistent times can set a routine for your digestive system. Regular meal times signal the body to expect and prepare for digestion, which can help maintain regular bowel movements.
How Can L’Evate You Greens Help With Constipation?
Our primary goal here at L’Evate You is to support cellular health. However, that’s not the only benefit that comes from taking our Daily Greens. While it’s not exactly designed to be a cure for constipation, our formula includes several ingredients that can encourage easy digestion and help you deal with constipation.
For instance, digestive enzymes can help break down complex food particles, supporting smooth digestion and nutrient absorption. Meanwhile, natural greens and vegetables are natural sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals that support the digestive system.
Using our Greens regularly can support overall digestive health, ensuring a balance of necessary nutrients and compounds that encourage the gut. Not only that, but our exclusive M-Charge Complex can support cellular energy, ensuring that all your bodily functions, including digestion, are functioning to the best of their ability.
The Bottom Line
Digestive health is something that’s easy to take for granted. But neglecting our digestion can lead to a variety of undesirable side effects, including constipation.
Making a few lifestyle changes like the ones we’ve mentioned can encourage and bolster your digestion. Adding in a few digestion-supporting exercises on top of those lifestyle changes can further support your stomach and help ease discomfort related to constipation.
While you’re making all of these changes, you may want to consider trying out L’Evate You’s Vitality Daily Greens. Just a little bit each day can give your body plenty of the essential nutrients that it needs to digest your food properly.