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Meta-analysis suggests physical exercise levels matter in constipation management

The authors propose that moderate and high physical activity levels tend to be linked with a lower risk of constipation in adults following a meta-analysis of over 3,000 studies.

Constipation affects roughly 10% to 15% of people globally, wrote the authors of an abstract presented at the 2022 American Urogynecologic Society and International Urogynecological Association’s 47th Annual Meeting held virtually and in-person in Austin, Texas from June 14-16, 2022.1

Increasing physical activity has been shown to help manage chronic constipation. However, previous studies have reported differing data on the link between constipation and physical activity. The authors also note that there is little data regarding the influence of varying levels of physical exercise on constipation.

To investigate further, researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the link between physical exercise levels and constipation in the adult population.

In the study, online searches were conducted across 9 databases looking for articles involving the following keywords: adult; physical activity, exercise; constipation, and defecation disorder.

Following independently screening 3,074 articles by the researchers, 11 cross-sectional studies were included in the meta-analysis (52,005 participants; 53% female).

The authors concluded that the results of the study demonstrate that moderate and high physical activity levels tend to be linked with a lower risk of constipation in adults.

They attributed the heterogeneity in assessment tools for physical activity, which could have led to the misclassification of physical activity levels. Thus, the authors warned that the results of their study need to be interpreted with caution.

Also, varying types of physical activity and constipation are still unknown because of the limited number of studies included in the meta-analysis. Despite this, the authors suggest the study could possibly offer evidence to health care professionals to help provide information about the significance of moderate and high physical activity with adult patients with constipation.

Reference

1. Tsai Y, Shao W, Lin K. Associations between Physical Activity Levels and Constipation in Adult Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Poster presentation at the 2022 American Urogynecologic Society and International Urogynecological Association’s 47th Annual Meeting. June 14-18, 2022. Austin, Texas.