Fitness and Ulcerative Colitis

Fitness and chronic illness don’t seem to go hand in hand.  Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis.  Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease.  Ulcers in my large intestines produce pain, cramping, weight loss and bloody diarrhea.  I take several medications daily, including immune-suppressants, but when my disease is flaring, the pain can be intense.  Ulcerative colitis (UC) affects over 600,000 people in the United States, but because of the nature of the disease (bowel disorders aren’t easy to talk about) this disease can feel very isolating.  Exercise is a way for me to deal with the depression that can accompany UC.  Here are some tips that have helped me deal with this crappy disease (yes, pun intended):

  • Be flexible with your training schedule.  Listen to your body.  Sometimes a low intensity workout or a long slow walk may be your best option.
  • Pick a route with restrooms along the way.  :)
  • Use a workout DVD or treadmill at home if gas or diarrhea makes a day at the gym impossible.
  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs (pain relievers like ibuprofen) should be avoided because they can irritate the GI tract and make UC symptoms worse.
  • Stay well hydrated, get plenty of rest and eat right. Know what dietary modifications work for you.

What I eat makes a HUGE difference in how I feel.  Specific foods don’t cause Ulcerative Colitis, but the wrong foods make it much worse.  Food is fuel.  Fill your tank with the right stuff.  Exercising regularly and making smart food choices make everyone look better and feel great.  A friend told me about a tour of Detroit’s Eastern Market called “Come Hungry, Leave Happy” by Feet on the Street Tours.  It’s an opportunity to meet local venders, try their products and get some tips for improving your health with homegrown Michigan foods.  My husband and I loved the tour.  For more information, click here:

Also worth noting:  The Dequindre Cut Greenway officially opened April 29th.  The Dequindre Cut is an Urban Recreational Path (walk, run, bike) that connects the Riverfront, Eastern Market and the neighborhoods in between.  I encourage everyone to check it out.

Written by Marty Button, 2016 Fitness Ambassador