People who have problems with excess intestinal gas are often advised to exercise, even though the benefit is unproven. Now research from Spain suggests that this may be good advice.
People who have problems with excess intestinal gas are often advised to exercise, even though the benefit is unproven. Now research from Spain suggests that this may be good advice. In a small study, physical activity sped the clearance of excess gas. “We have shown that physical exercise facilitates intestinal gas evacuation, and may thus prevent abdominal symptoms related to gas retention, such as bloating,” study author Dr. Fernando Azpiroz of the Hospital General Vail d’Hebron in Barcelona told Reuters Health. “The importance of this study is that it provides experimental support for a heretofore unproven recommendation frequently made by physicians,” Azpiroz added. Although the study shows that exercise can help reduce excess gas in healthy people, the effect of exercise in people with irritable bowel syndrome or bloating is still unknown, Azpiroz and his colleagues point out in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Medicine. In the study, 8 healthy adults had a gas mixture pumped into the small intestine. A catheter was placed in the rectum to collect and measure the release of gas. The researchers measured how much gas was evacuated at rest and when participants pedaled on a modified exercise bike. During a 2-hour period of rest, participants released 10 percent less gas than was pumped into them. During exercise, however, more gas was released than was pumped in, meaning that participants were releasing some gas produced by the body, too. What’s more, swelling of the gut caused by excess gas diminished during physical activity, the researchers report. Whether exercise can relieve symptoms of excess gas is uncertain, however, since people in the study did not report much discomfort while resting or exercising. Azpiroz and his colleagues are not certain how exercise relieves excess gas, but one possibility is that exercise gets rid of gas by increasing pressure in the abdomen. (Source: American Journal of Medicine, Reuters Health News, May 2004)