ask the RD: Is it okay to exercise if I am experiencing gastrointestinal problems?

Food for Thought:

Answer: It can be difficult to muster up the energy and motivation to exercise if you’re nauseous, vomiting or suffering from diarrhea—and for good reason. It’s best to rest and recover if you’re experiencing an onset of gastrointestinal (GI) problems. If you decide to ignore the symptoms, the stress of exercise may actually prolong the illness or let it progress to something worse. Also keep in mind that GI problems often disrupt your usual eating routine and hydration status, making it more difficult for you to perform at your best. Many endurance athletes report GI distress during training and competition. In such cases, it’s okay to exercise, but making adjustments to your pre-exercise routine is probably necessary. For example, eating at least 3–4 hours before an event gives the body enough time to digest the food in advance, or switching to a liquid meal can help. Whatever the cause of your gastrointestinal problems, consult a registered dietitian who can offer practical strategies for controlling symptoms and properly fueling for exercise.

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Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD

IDEA Author/Presenter
You can pose your own question to our contributing editor Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD, a registered di... more less
October 2010

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