The effect of a short-term physical activity after meals on gastrointestinal symptoms in individuals with functional abdominal bloating: a randomized clinical trial

Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench. 2021 Winter;14(1):59-66.


Aim: The present study aims to compare the effect of a short duration postprandial walking and prokinetic medications on bloating reported by healthy individuals.

Background: Abdominal bloating imposes significant clinical, social and economic burden on the healthcare systems; however, treatment of bloating is limited and not effective in all individuals with this symptom. Prokinetic agents are recommended in the treatment of bloating in individuals without underlying disorders traditionally.

Methods: The study participants were randomized into two groups of control and intervention. In the control group, individuals were given daily domperidone plus activated dimethicone as a prokinetic medication, while the subjects in the intervention group were asked to perform a 10-15-minutewalk after each meal. The study duration was 4 weeks, the subjects were re-visited afterwards, and their symptoms was compared before and after the study.

Results: This study consists of 94 individuals including 24 men and 70 women with mean age of 44.47±12.25 years with 49 participants in the control group and 45 participants in the intervention group. Both prokinetic medication use and minimal exercise after meals were associated with significant improvements in the GI tract symptoms such as belching, flatus, postprandial epigastric fullness/ bloating, gas incontinency and abdominal discomfort/pain (p-value <0.001). The changes in the score of the gastrointestinal symptoms from beginning to end of study between the two arms of study were not statistically significant except for postprandial epigastric fullness/ bloating symptoms where the intervention was superior to the use of prokinetics (p-value=0.002).

Conclusion: This study shows that physical activity could be effective in relieving abdominal bloating symptoms. In contrast to other means of treatment proposed for abdominal bloating and its related symptoms, it needs no materials or equipment and can be easily performed by any individual.

Keywords: Abdominal bloating; Abdominal distension; Exercise; Physical activity.