Does Working Out Cause Constipation?

Does working out cause constipation? It’s a common question, and the answer may surprise you.


Constipation is a common problem among athletes, especially those who train on a regular basis. Although exercise offers many health benefits, it can also increase the risk of developing constipation due to changes in diet, lifestyle and physical activity.

For most people, exercising will not cause constipation unless other factors are at play. However, if an individual experiences constipation after engaging in physical activity, there may be underlying causes that should be investigated. This article will explore the causes of constipation related to exercise and provide tips to prevent or alleviate its occurrence.

Causes of Constipation

Constipation is a very common condition that can affect people of all ages. It’s characterized by difficulty emptying your bowels, infrequent bowel movements, and hard stools. Many lifestyle factors can cause constipation, and one of those factors is exercise. In this article, we will look at how working out can play a role in causing constipation and what you can do to prevent it.

Lack of Exercise

For many individuals, the current restrictions on physical activity due to pandemic-mandated social distancing measures present a unique challenge to maintaining regularity in digestion. Though exercise can help aid in digesting food, a lack of physical activity has the opposite effect and can be one of the primary causes of constipation.

When there is no exercise or physical activity to stimulate bowel movements and help move waste through the digestive system, food and fiber move more slowly. This makes it difficult for stool to form properly and can lead to uncomfortable constipation in otherwise healthy individuals. It is important to ensure regular exercise for an active lifestyle, but also for thorough digestion and excretion of waste products from the body.

Exercising regularly helps muscle contractions that create natural peristalsis – rippling waves of contraction – within the intestines and stomach. Not only does this help food travel through your digestive tract faster, it’s also necessary for proper functioning of your body’s organs that rely on rhythmic contractions created by movement and physical activity. The end result is easier evacuations with lesser strain on your body. Engaging in some form of light exercise at least 30 minutes a day – such as jogging, walking or biking – will go a long way towards helping you keep regularity and prevent any bouts with constipation due to lack of motion.

Poor Diet

One of the most common causes for constipation is poor diet. If you are not consuming enough dietary fiber, fluids and essential nutrients from your diet, it can lead to constipation. Dietary fiber helps keep the digestive system healthy by adding bulk and weight to stool, making it softer thus easier to pass. Foods such as fruits, dark leafy vegetables, whole grains and legumes are good sources of dietary fiber. Additionally, adequate hydration is also important for regularity. Make sure that you’re drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water per day or other hydrating fluids such as herbal teas or kefir for added health benefits. Furthermore, not getting enough essential nutrients from the variety of foods that you eat can also contribute to constipation. Nutrients such as iron and magnesium help to regulate digestion and support regularity so be sure to include a wide variety of foods in your diet in order to meet your nutrient requirements as well as staying properly nourished overall.


Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. When a person does not take in an adequate amount of fluids, the stool can become dry and hard, resulting in difficulty with bowel movements. A lack of fluids can also cause a decrease in gut motility or the movement of waste through the intestines which can also contribute to constipation. In order to ensure appropriate hydration levels, it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid excess caffeine and alcohol consumption. Working out may lead to dehydration if individuals do not replenish lost fluids via water or electrolyte-containing beverages. Adequate hydration levels are necessary for normal bowel movements and overall digestive health.


Stress is one of the most common causes of constipation because we often don’t recognize the effects it has on our bodies. Stress contributes to poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. It can also affect our sleeping patterns, further disrupting digestion which can lead to constipation. Stress can sometimes cause changes in hormone production which impact the signals that regulate digestion and waste movement through the colon.

Prolonged stress also tends to decrease blood supply to the digestive tract, including the large intestine. This reduces nutrients available for proper digestion and waste transportation, leading to constipation. Finally, too much stress can result in an increase in muscle tension all over the body, including in the stomach and intestines, interfering with regular elimination from both food sources and bodily fluids. If you are feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed it is important to take additional steps like exercise or meditation to help support your mental health as well as your digestive health.

How Does Working Out Affect Constipation?

The effects of working out on constipation can vary depending on a person’s diet, lifestyle and fitness goals. Exercise can help reduce constipation in some people while it can cause it in others. It is important to understand how physical activity can affect our digestive system in order to make sure we are taking the proper steps to stay healthy and fit. Let’s take a look at how exercising can affect our digestive system.

Increase in Activity

Regular physical activity can help alleviate constipation. When you increase your activity level, your body may respond by increasing bowel movements as well. An increase in physical activity can enhance peristaltic motion, which is the contraction of muscles responsible for pushing waste through the large intestines. Furthermore, fluids consumed during exercise can also aid in strengthening peristalsis, helping to flush out waste and ease constipation symptoms. In addition to increasing your physical activity, it is important to maintain a diet rich in foods high in dietary fiber and other sources of beneficial nutrients such as amino acids and plant compounds which will help nourish your digestive tract and keep it functioning properly.

Improved Diet

Regular exercise can also help improve your diet, which is an important factor in addressing constipation. Exercise increases digestion and nutrient absorption, leading to overall improvement in your health. Additionally, it may also lead to healthier eating habits and better eating choices. This includes increased intake of whole grains, aided by a decrease in processed food intake, along with more fruits and vegetables. Fiber is the primary component of a healthy diet for relieving constipation; it adds bulk and water to stool, making it easier to pass through the system.

Incorporating a nutritious diet that includes at least 25-35 grams of fiber from sources such as beans, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds into your exercise routine can help provide effective relief from chronic constipation. Additionally, increasing water consumption to 8-10 glasses every day ensures that enough moisture is present for the bowels to efficiently process food.

Increased Hydration

One key factor in preventing constipation caused by working out is proper hydration. When the body does not receive enough water and fluids, it begins to pull water from fecal matter, resulting in dry, hardened stools that are difficult to pass. To prevent this from happening, make sure you drink adequate amounts of fluid throughout the day – particularly when working out. Try to drink 16 ounces of water for each 20-30 minutes of exercise, and maintain good hydration throughout the day leading up to your workout. Drinking more than the minimum during exercise is recommended as well. Water isn’t the only option – sports drinks and other high electrolyte beverages can also provide hydration benefits while helping to replenish lost electrolytes during exercise. Additionally, studies have also shown that adding fiber-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables can aid in normalizing bowel movements following a workout session.

Tips to Avoid Constipation

Exercise is a great way to stay in shape and keep your body healthy, but it can also lead to constipation if done incorrectly. Constipation can be an uncomfortable and even painful condition and it is important to learn how to prevent it from happening. This section will discuss some tips to help you avoid constipation while working out.

Increase Fiber Intake

Fiber is an important part of a balanced diet and helps prevent constipation. It can be found in many different types of food, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Eating foods that are high in fiber can help add bulk to your stools and make them easier to pass through your digestive system. To increase your fiber intake, try eating more whole grain products, adding fruits and vegetables to your meals, snacking on nuts or seeds, or using a soluble fiber supplement. Additionally, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day to ensure that you stay hydrated as dehydration can make your stool more difficult to pass.

Increase Water Intake

Increasing your water intake is one of the most effective and simplest ways to prevent constipation and proper hydration is essential for good digestion. Aim to drink eight 8 ounce (236 mL) glasses of water each day. For best results, drink more when you are exercising or if it’s a hot day outside. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men consume approximately 3 liters (about 13 cups) per day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups). Consider increasing your fluid intake if you feel constipated or have a difficult time passing stools. Additionally, try adding fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts to your diet each day so that your body gets the fiber it needs to function properly.

Exercise Regularly

To help prevent constipation, aim to engage in moderate physical activity on a regular basis. Research shows that regular exercise can increase the speed at which food moves through your intestines and can improve bowel function. However, too much exercise can lead to dehydration as well as muscle strain or injury, which can both contribute to constipation. Make sure to get clearance from your doctor before starting any new exercise program, and be sure to drink plenty of water during and after exercise to replace fluids lost through sweat. For best results, aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity — such as brisk walking or swimming — most days of the week.

Manage Stress Levels

It’s important to recognize the potential impact of stress on your digestion. Chronic mental or emotional tension can cause constipation due to a disruption in movement of the gastrointestinal tract. To help minimize digestive discomforts, it’s important to practice lifestyle and dietary habits that can help reduce Gastrointestinal Distress Syndrome (GIDS), which is a clinical disorder involving the frequent disruption of both psychological and physiological functioning in the gastrointestinal tract. Taking part in activities like yoga, tai chi, massages and mindfulness have all been proven to reduce stress levels significantly and improve GI health. Additionally, learning how to release tension through engaging in relaxation strategies such as deep breathing exercises or soaking in a warm bath is beneficial for promoting regularity.


When considering if working out could cause constipation, it’s important to look at the individual factors at play such as diet and liquid intake, exercise intensity and duration, as well as general lifestyle habits. Constipation from working out is usually a combination of multiple factors. To prevent or reduce constipation from working out you should:
– Increase your fiber intake
– Drink plenty of water
– Ensure you have balanced exercise regime
– Get enough sleep and rest
– Consider taking a probiotic supplement.

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