Chances are you’ve heard of runner’s trots or at the very least could hazard a guess at what they may entail. Yup, it might not be pleasant but diarrhea is super common among cardio-loving folk. Which is why it may come as a surprise to learn that some forms of exercise can actually cause the opposite tummy trouble (read: constipation).
Of course, it’s dependant on many factors; mainly, how hard you go, the food you’ve eaten and your general gut health. But experts say there’s one workout, in particular, that’s known for blocking things up: high-intensity interval training.
In an interview with MBG, functional nutrition program instructor Dr Robert Berzin explained that HIIT-related digestive problems are something she sees a lot of. In fact, exercise is a key factor in the timing of our bathroom habits, although it’s surprisingly often overlooked.
“One patient of mine was doing high-intensity interval training almost every day, and it was actually overly stressing her body,” she told the publication. “What we know is that for the gut to move, it has to relax. And when you’re in a state of stress all day, and then you do high-intensity interval training over and over again, sometimes it never gives the gut that time to relax, digest and move.”
In short, HIIT is very intense on the body – something that’s great for building endurance and muscle but not-so-great for keeping us regular.
So, what’s a girl to do?
“Incorporate more restorative exercise, more pilates, more yoga and more walking,” Berzin suggested. “We also advised [my patient] to stop doing HIIT workouts so close to when she was eating—this would give her digestive system a chance to do its job well.”
Now, to be clear: if these symptoms don’t apply to you, keep doing what you’re doing. HIIT workouts have many benefits (including boosting the metabolism and keeping your weight loss goals on track.) But if you’ve been smashing out daily classes and feeling pressure in the pipes, it might be worth taking it a little easier from now on.