The Real Reason Exercise Makes You Poop

It's not a pretty situation, but it happens: you're at the gym on the treadmill, and suddenly, the urge to go number two is overwhelming. Why does exercise make us need to poop? There are a few reasons you might need to do a restroom sprint during your power-walk, and there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to prevent it happening. Here's what you need to know:

It could be the motion: unfortunately, for some people, the jostling from running, jumping jacks, jump squats, or other speedy motions could be the reason you need to poop after a few minutes of movement. When you run or do other jostling activities, your colonic motility is increased, as are a few other factors that can soften stool and make you feel the intense urge to poop midway through your workout (via Shape).

It could be the caffeine: if you're a morning exerciser, your shot of espresso or two cups of coffee before your run may be the culprit behind your urgent need to poop after a mile or two (via You might even be over-hydrated, which can lead to loose stool in addition to the need to pee (via The Healthy). Or a heavy breakfast that's a little too fiber-filled eaten before your run could be the culprit.

How do you stop needing to poop during exercise?

There are a few ways to solve your poop problems, though it's unlikely that you'll never need to go. Start by changing your workout timing to after your morning bowel movement, so rather than coffee-run-bathroom, switch to coffee-bathroom-run (the same applies to eating breakfast). This might mean an earlier wakeup, or even shifting your run time to later in the day. "If you want to eat or have coffee before exercising, try to also have a bowel movement before. It will always be to your benefit," gastroenterologist Rudolph Bedford, MD, told The Healthy.

If you can't change the urge to poop, change the nature of your workout. Opt for training somewhere convenient to a bathroom, like at a gym or in a park with open restrooms. Or, if you're a runner or walker, plan a route that loops by your house several times, so you're never far from your own bathroom. You can also try other forms of exercise and see if there's an option that doesn't cause the need-to-go sensation. Spinning or cycling rather than running tends to be gentler on the gut, and strength training rather than a HIIT workout won't be as jostle-inducing.