Does Bicycling cause Constipation ?
Since the day I bought a bicycle, I have been spending time on the saddle for atleast one hour every day. One thing I have noticed since then is that, prior to starting my cycling regimen, I used to have no problem attending to the call of nature. But now a days even though I am not exactly constipated, I do feel discomfort while doing the deed every day.
So the big question on my mind was – Does riding of a bicycle cause constipation ?
Now this question might seem queer to many since it is widely believed that exercise in any form will help digestion. So I did a search on the net for any links to bicycle riding and constipation and I came across an article on cptips.com in which one person had the same problem.
Here is what I have deduced from the article ….
- Drink lots of fluids before and after the ride to ensure you are sufficiently hydrated. Dehydration from inadequate fluid replacement can make you constipated. This is because if you are dehydrated, the stomach will empty more slowly and there will be an accentuation of the decrease in blood flow to the small intestine.
- Studies have demonstrated a reduced blood flow to the digestive system during vigorous exercise – an 80% reduction after 1 hour cycling at 70% VO2max. And there was a direct relationship in that individuals with the most severe symptoms had the greatest decrease in blood flows. So do not ride a bicycle immediately after a heavy meal as your stomach needs all the blood to digest what you have eaten. By riding a bicycle immediately, you are denying a fair share to the stomach and the digestive tract.
- Small, frequent snacks while on the bike are recommended for rides of greater than 2 hours. For example, a banana, a bar of chocolate and of course lots of water.
To sum up, the following are six simple steps which will help in minimizing all the above mentioned problems related to the gastro intestine.
6 Steps to minimize Gastro Intestinal Problems for bicycle riders
- Pace yourself – Breathe constantly. The stomach empties better at <75% VO2max
- Hydrate – Drink lots of water. Dehydration leads to decreased stomach emptying and nausea
- Avoid concentrated (hypertonic) solutions – Namely sugary solutions.
- Determine which foods work for you
- Eat lightly on your rides – your digestive tract will adapt to eating while exercising. Mind you, eating doesn’t mean a heavy meal.
- Ride bicycle on a regular basis – If you are in better shape, more blood will go to the digestive tract at any given level of exertion