Get a FREE Pass to the IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo   Claim My FREE Expo Pass »

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

by Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD on Sep 29, 2010

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.

Fitness Journal, Volume 7, Issue 10

Find the Perfect Job

More jobs, more applicants and more visits than any other fitness industry job board.

© 2010 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD

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 dietitian and worksite wellness consultant with Presbyterian Health Plan. Please send your questions, along with your name and city/state/country, to editor Sandy Webster at