Physical Activity in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Narrative Review

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2022 Jul 1;28(7):1100-1111. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izab218.


Maitreyi Raman 1Vidya Rajagopalan 1Sandeep Kaur 1Raylene A Reimer 2Christopher Ma 1Subrata Ghosh 3Jeff Vallance 4


Author information

1Department of Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, ABCanada.

2Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.

3College of Medicine and Health, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.

4Faculty of Health Disciplines, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Canada.


Background: Despite advancement in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), induction and maintenance of remission remain challenging to achieve in many patients and a significant proportion of patients with IBD experience mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and fatigue, which impair their quality of life (QoL). We aim to describe the available evidence regarding the effects of physical activity (PA) on the onset of IBD, its disease course, and important patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), such as QoL, fatigue, and mental health.

Methods: A literature search was performed using electronic databases to identify original articles that assessed the effects of PA in patients with IBD using PROMs.

Results: Prospective cohort and case-control studies demonstrate inverse relationships between PA and new-onset IBD in Crohn's disease but not in ulcerative colitis; however, they have small sample sizes and caution must be taken in considering associations versus causation. Small randomized controlled trials suggest promise for PA and beneficial outcomes, such as maintenance of clinical remission and improvement in QoL, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. However, these studies were small and underpowered, and limited by outcome measurements and durations of follow-up.

Conclusions: Physicians may consider discussing PA interventions with their patients on an individual basis, especially if they report impaired QoL, fatigue, depression, or anxiety, until disease-specific guidelines are available. Including PA as part of a primary prevention strategy in high-risk patients could be considered.



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