Effects of exercise on total and segmental colon transit

J Clin Gastroenterol. 1993 Jun;16(4):300-3. doi: 10.1097/00004836-199306000-00006.


To investigate the effect of aerobic exercise on total gastrointestinal and segmental colon transit, 16 male health care workers with a sedentary life-style were studied during 1 week of rest and 1 week of exercise. The exercise phase consisted of walking 4.5 km on a level treadmill for 1 h on each of 3 days. Total gastrointestinal and segmental colon transit times were measured using radiopaque markers ingested on each of 3 consecutive days with an abdominal radiograph obtained on the fourth day. With exercise, total gastrointestinal transit time decreased in 5, increased in 6, and did not change in 5 subjects. Using a paired t test, total transit did not show a significant change from rest (24.5 +/- 21.8 h) to exercise (20.9 +/- 16.8 h), p = 0.50. These observations support our previous findings that physical activity to the extent that average people consider routine exercise does not necessarily improve gastrointestinal transit. Therefore, the role of such exercise in the management of chronic constipation can be seriously questioned.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colon / physiology*
  • Colon, Sigmoid / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Transit / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors