The effects of locomotor activity on gastrointestinal symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome among younger people: An observational study

PLoS One. 2020 May 29;15(5):e0234089. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234089. eCollection 2020.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common bowel disorder that manifests as unexplained abdominal pain or discomfort and bowel habit changes in the form of diarrhea, constipation, or alternating patterns of the two. Some evidences demonstrate that increased physical activity improves IBS symptoms. Hence, daily exercise is recommended in these patients. In this study, we aimed to investigate the relationship between physical activity and gastrointestinal symptoms in 101 university students (female = 78) with IBS. Participants were examined by Gastrointestinal Symptoms Rating Scale (GSRS), and gait steps were measured for 1 week using a pedometer. The association between the GSRS score and pedometer counts was determined by ordinal logistic modeling analysis. The ordinal logistic regression model for GSRS and locomotor activity showed a significant stepwise fit (z = -3.05, p = 0.002). The logistic curve separated GSRS score of 5 points (moderately severe discomfort) from 2 points (minor discomfort) by locomotor activity. The probability for daily locomotor activity to discriminate between 5 and 4 points of GSRS (i.e., likely to have reverse symptoms) decreased in accordance with increment of steps per day: 78% probability for 4000 steps, 70% probability for 6000 steps, 59% probability for 8000 steps, and 48% probability for 10000 steps. This study demonstrated that the severity of GSRS is associated with the amount of walking in younger people with IBS. These results may be used as a measure to determine the daily step count to reduce the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms in individuals with IBS.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / pathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / pathology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science funded this research through grants (project JP10K11368 and JP18KK0275). Staff at Saitama Prefectural University provided support for this study through subject recruitment, material procurement, and funding management.