Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, right? With the obesity epidemic on the rise, related disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease rapidly increasing, exercise is potentially one of our most potent weapons against these problems. However, there are some special considerations that people with celiac disease should think about. Exercise should become a part of lifestyle for all of us-but here is why celiacs in particular can benefit.
1-Weight Control. For some people with celiac disease, malabsorption may have been an issue to the point where they lost weight. For others, they may have gained weight. For all, the prevalence of processed, low nutritive but high calorie gluten free foods is a potential cause for weight/fat gain. Exercise can assist in maintaining a healthy weight, and the inclusion of weight training can also aid in achieving healthy body composition as far as muscle to fat ratio. Our everyday lives for the most part tend to be very sedentary in nature. Adding exercise can boost the caloric burn you create throughout your day, which would allow you to maintain a caloric balance more easily.
2-Bone health. Osteoporosis and osteopenia are unfortunate and very common consequences of celiac disease and resultant malabsorption of nutrients. Weight bearing exercise such as walking, and running can aid in remodeling of bone. Unfortunately, cycling and swimming have not been found to be as beneficial when it comes to bone health. Weight training has a very positive impact on bone health. You may not be able to reverse the weakening of bone you already have, but you can certainly keep it from worsening.
3-Improved mood. Certainly non-celiacs demonstrate this as well. Sometimes though, we celiacs get a case of the “why me’s?” or get frustrated with the challenges of everyday living gluten free. Walking into the break room at work and seeing crumbs all over the counter does it to me! Step away from the kitchen, and go exercise. Exercise has been shown to release hormones known as endorphins which can boost mood. Also, the neurotransmitter serotonin is released which can also assist in maintaining a positive mood.
4-Improved overall circulation. This could also assist in keeping the gut healthy, or in healing damage already created from gluten in a small way. Blood flow to the gut is decreased during an actual exercise bout (and directed to the working muscles,) but overall the circulation to and activity of the digestive tract is improved with regular exercise.
5-Improved Nutrition. Of course this doesn’t come directly from exercise. But exercising may cause you to make healthier nutrition choices. The “halo effect” or where the positive qualities of one thing transfer to another, may make you reach for the carrot instead of the gluten free muffin. Doing one good thing for your body may create a domino effect where you do a second and third good thing for your body. Improving your nutrition by eating more vitamin and nutrient rich whole foods will fill in any deficiencies you may have experienced due to malapsorption. Also you may experience weight/fat loss of that is your goal given an appropriate caloric intake level.
-A couple considerations to keep in mind. You do want to be sure to get adequate levels of iron and calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D to sustain energy levels and maximize bone health. Also keep in mind, especially if weight training, that protein needs may be higher. Generally accepted levels for weight training athletes (yes you are an athlete) is approximately 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
So what will exercise do for you? Potentials are limitless-but looking better, feeling strong, keeping bones healthy, thinking positive, and eating well-sounds pretty good to me!
About the Author: