How Your Workout Routine Could Be Impacting Your Poop

Runners are too familiar with the mid-run urge. You're busting at a great pace on your morning run when you begin eyeing the nearest porta-potty. It might come the morning after a heavy steak dinner, or your urge could frustrate you during every workout. As annoying as a mid-workout urge to poop can be, gastroenterologists say it's pretty normal and common (via The Healthy).

Exercise gets things going in your digestive system, and being inactive can leave you constipated. In fact, mild to moderate exercise is often prescribed for people with irritable bowel syndrome. In the same way you move, your digestive system moves food and fluids throughout and out of your body (via HealthShots). Yet repetitive movements such as running could cause a little damage to your intestinal lining, causing the runs during your run, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. There are other reasons why your exercise could stimulate your digestive tract.

Why you need to go when you workout

Gastroenterologists tell The Healthy that exercise stimulates hormones in your body. In particular, the vasoactive intestinal peptide stimulates movement in your gut. Adrenaline and the peptide hormone gastrin also get things going in your digestive system. If you're doing a race, your nerves could also give these hormones a boost.

Exercise also shifts your blood from the digestive tract to your muscles, causing your bowels to contract. Sometimes, drinking too much fluid with electrolytes can cause your bowels to loosen. Sports drinks with a carb solution of more than 7% can result in GI distress, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders.

Certain foods might awaken your bowels during exercise. Natural and artificial sweeteners, fats, grains, dairy, and caffeine could be the culprits of your mid-workout urge to poop, according to Unity Point Health. Short, intense runs might not present too much of a problem, but longer runs at a moderate pace could necessitate your need to go.

How to tame your bowels during a workout

Keeping a diary of what, when, and how much you eat before a workout could give you an idea of what might be stimulating your gut during your workout. Endurance runners might want to avoid certain foods before a long run since a trip to the bathroom might be difficult (via Unity Point Health). Morning coffee might also stimulate your bowels, so take some extra time in the morning to answer nature's call before your workout.

If you feel the urge to poop during your workout, it's a matter of the strength of your sphincter keeping you from going. You could try to hold it in, but if your workout is too long or too hard, holding it in could be more difficult.

Endurance athletes should monitor their hydration levels during longer workouts, as dehydration can lead to diarrhea. If your workouts haven't changed and you notice urges to poop during your workout, see a doctor to check your thyroid and hormone levels (via The Healthy).