How this one exercise helps my IBS in a few minutes a day.

Spoiler: Kettlebell swings DRAMATICALLY helped my IBS!

Exercise constipation diarrhea kettlebell swingsI’ve been writing about IBS for years, and this exercise has helped my IBS more than almost anything else.

Once I got rid of my IBS food triggers, I found some small things that helped, but NOTHING like what has happened since I started kettlebell swings.

I went from loose stools and diarrhea, constipation and gas to having mostly regular bowel movements in less than 2 weeks! I don’t want to give you false hope here, but this is what happened to me.

What are kettlebells and how does this exercise help IBS?

A kettlebell looks kind of like a cannonball with a handle. The most commonly used one is cast iron.

They originated in Russia a few centuries ago, and people have used them to build great, all-over strength, and amazing cardio.Some of the old “Strong Men” are shown lifting them in old ads and postcards.

Kettlebells  became really popular in many parts of the world over the last 10 years or so because they can do amazing things for your body in general.

One of the foundation exercises is the “kettlebell swing”.  I never expected to see such great improvements in my bowel movements and IBS symptoms from this one exercise.

So how does this exercise help IBS? Sure it works your outside muscles, BUT It works out your insides like nothing else I know of.

First here’s a little background on my quest for an exercise that helps IBS:

My doctor recommended exercise for IBS but…

I saw my regular doctor and a gastroenterologist for years, and got all the tests (except for a food elimination diet which I believe is critical).

Scopes and cameras where the sun doesn’t shine, blood tests and all that, all kinds of questionnaires and family histories.

Next came the recommendations that my IBS must be cause by stress, or depression or something, so they sent me to a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist.

Queue second opinion.

But I’m not going to lie. Psychotherapy helped my life. I was a bundle of stress, and learning to live less stressfully has been really good for me.

But it didn’t cure my IBS.

Finally my gastroenterologist literally THREW UP HIS HANDS, and said “I don’t know what could be causing this”. That was a bit of a shock but I appreciated his honesty.

His last bit of wisdom was “Make sure you get at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3 to 5 times a week.” He told me that cardio excercise helps peristalsis, the squeezing motion that moves food through your bowels.

He didn’t even say what kind of exercise though!

Exercises that helped my IBS a little:

So I figured that I’d try doing lots of walking. The treadmill didn’t help my IBS at all.

Next I tried sit-ups and crunches. These exercises helped my IBS a lot. Particularly the constipation. It didn’t do much for my loose stool or gas though. It was also remarkably boring, and I had to do a LOT of them to get results.

Regular weight lifting seemed to help very little. I know it’s not cardio but I had the equipment, and knew how to use it so I gave it a shot.

What else could I try? I’m not a gym kind of guy. It’s expensive, and requires me to not be in pajamas when I exercise ;). As far as home equipment, I already bought a treadmill I never use. I’m not buying a bunch of equipment to hang clothing on.

Let’s face it, for most people cardio is boring, and I’m lazy when things are boring (okay I’m lazy whether things are boring or not, but boring is worse :) ).

Lazy people and lazy bowels?

I didn’t want to believe that my lack of exercise was my problem anyway. I’m sure there are people who get plenty of exercise and still have IBS symptoms (tell your story in the comments please!).

Besides, there are a million (okay a couple of thousand) things I’d rather do than exercise. Especially boring exercise.

But I switched primary care doctors, and my new doctor (an osteopath) told me the same kinds of thing.

Exercise helps IBS and lots of other things, and I need to find one that I enjoy.

Exercise that I enjoy sounded like an oxymoron, but she walked me through finding out why I hate exercising so much

My new doctor helped me realize that I needed something at least KIND of fun, and something that moved around a lot. Here was my checklist:

  1. Must be dynamic and move quickly so I don’t get bored
  2. Needs to be something I can do at any time of day, alone if necessary or desirable.
  3. Must be cheap (like me) and not take a lot of space, so I can do it at home. 

Kettlebells: The one exercise for IBS that has worked WONDERS for me!

I typed all that stuff into a Google search and found a site about kettlebells.

Next I was reading how kettlebells are great for cardio and weight loss (which I needed), but they also are great for building useful strength like picking up boxes, kids, couches, your spouse… I WANTED IN!

Now one of the chief exercises (some say the most important kettlebell exercise) is the kettlebell swing.

Check out this kettlebell swing video from Lauren Brooks a great kettlebell teacher. You need to know this stuff before you start. Great form. Skip to the end to just see the swing!

Doing this exercise really works almost your whole body. You’re bending over, then forcefully swinging a piece of iron up in front of you.


Smooshes being the technical term :).

Somehow, this worked a lot of gas out of my system, and firmed up my stool. It also kept stool moving regularly so I was going more often with more “form”.

{Facepalm}I really can’t believe I write this stuff sometimes.

Anyway, within a week or so I gradually started seeing major changes. Less gas, less trapped wind/gas, more regular and easier to pass bowel movements.

In fact the diarrhea and constipation are virtually GONE.

It didn’t seem to help so much with the visceral hypersensitivity (aka bowel pain) that hits me sometimes, but it does seem less frequent.

Can kettlebell swings help YOUR IBS?

I THINK SO! If someone asked me to recommend one exercise for IBS, this would be the one.

But only YOU can find out for sure.

NOTE: This is a powerful full body exercise. YOU CAN hurt yourself. You should talk to your doctor about it and get some training or at least a DVD about kettlebells.

The kettlebells themselves are small and don’t take up room like most gym equipment. Amazingly all this goodness from a piece of iron smaller than a gallon of milk. They are also much cheaper (less than $100, often less than $50).

Kettlebells and flatulence!

I don’t like typing this, but you’ve got to know. If you’re like me, kettebells swings are going to get gas out of your system when you use them!

In other words we’re talking about occassional out-of-control farts.


Though there are good reasons to take a class (expertise, training, companionship) this is one reason I like doing kettlebell exercises at home.

This kettlebell exercise for IBS has my HUGE vote of confidence.

As I said above, the 2 biggest things that have helped my IBS are eliminating my IBS trigger foods, and doing kettlebell swings.

There are other exercises to be done with kettlebells, but that’s more than I’m going to write about here.


All the best!




  1. Reply

    I can’t get past the Amazon popup to read your sight.

  2. Reply

    Hi Shawn, I see you mention Gas!! I have IBS-D mainly, but I do get constipated. Anyway, My IBS was finally controlled by viberze and now I have uncontrolled gas. Like I just get up from a chair and it just comes out. I have never had a problem with this before. Even with IBS, I never had gas problems. I stay away from gassy foods. So its becoming a burden for me. You mention in your article that this helps with gas. Do you think this will help me? Im going to at least try. Ive done everything else I can think of.

  3. Reply

    I am SO hoping this helps. I have been on a several year journey of losing weight and using the modified (by me) FODMAP diet along with exercise and stress reduction for my IBS-C (or, as my Dr. likes to say, classic spastic colon with constipation).

    I recently started trying for the n th time to add abdominal work into my workout. Unfortunately for me, it has the quite opposite effect it has for you. My body (abdomen) locks itself up and doesn’t let anything out. My most recent theory is that I spend so much time trying to relax things, that doing any sort of contraction confuses my colon – yep, I said it. I have a confused colon.

    Anyway, abdominal work is definitely going to be necessasary for me to obtain certain goals I have and I am THRILLED that I have stumbled onto your blog! I will be getting Kettlebells this weekend and give it a go.

    Thanks again – I can’t wait to read more of your blog.

  4. Reply

    I was wondering, not for myself since I do have IBS but for those that don’t have IBS. Should people who don’t have IBS use this? Is there even any point to using this if someone doesn’t have IBS?

    • Reply

      Yes! Kettle bells are an amazing workout. Very versatile and you can do a full body workout. As a personal trainer, I recommend you find someone experienced so you can learn proper form and not hurt yourself! :) IG: happy.healthyfitness

  5. Reply

    Do yoga continuously….Never give up

  6. Reply

    Do Yoga and Get cured !!!!

    • Reply

      Did yoga work for you? Can you give more details? Like how severe was your IBS and how long did you have to do yoga before you had it cured? How often did you practice yoga and what was your routine? I’m really interested. Thanks!

  7. Reply

    Hi – I’ve read your really helpful site and have now brought a kettle bell :-) Can I ask how often you used your kettle bell per week and how many sets you do? Also do you perform this exercise in the morning first thing or at any time of day?

    Thanks heaps

    • Reply

      When I use the kettlebell for swings I do 3 sets of 20. Start slow and build up though!!! And pleas be careful of your back. Form is everything!

      I do any exercise in the morning as i know I’ll talk myself out of it later, especially if I’m tired.

      • Reply

        woah thanks for that i’ll have to get my reps uo

  8. Reply

    Hi, I have been suffering ibs for many years. It would comecand go. But of recent times it has not been going away. I have been pointed to FODMAPS. It is the result of a study done by Australian researchers and can assist with identifying those things in the diet that trigger ibs attacks. It may not be the whole answer, but is a methodological approack to finding trigger foods.

  9. Reply

    Shawn, I suppose I must have typed in some ‘magic’ keywords when I began a search for slow peristaltic action of the bowels. Your site was the first to catch my eye. Avid reading of all the posts quickly began. The insights the commenters offered were such a help. And the warm personable responses you made to some while offering empathy, sympathy, cautions, suggestions, praises, etc. impressed me very much. To achieve that over a word based system open to the public is admirable.
    Thank you for such a contribution to so many plagued with bowel and poop problems.

    I am female, 69 years old with chronic constipation which most of my family admits is a problem with them also. I’ve tried so many things over the years. I don’t think there is one suggestion that has been made on all the posts that I haven’t tried except surgery (Never unless life threatening) and….KETTLEBELLS. This very day I am going to pursue this ‘new’ way.

    I might add there is one thing that has helped me greatly. I want to continue using this help aid, but believe that it could eventually pose problems even though I’ve not heard any associated with the use of Miralax other than it could weaken one’s peristaltic action over time. Miralax not only helps with the movement, but it does make the stool softer with a good form and produces those sought after ” 2 footers” that make for a pretty site in the toilet bowl. I was surprised out of all the comments I read in this site, Miralax was never mentioned. I likely didn’t read all, but found no references to it among those I did read.

    Let my great big ‘THANK YOU’ join with all the others to tell you that I am grateful!

  10. Reply

    Thanks for all your information. I had all the test too with no help for my gastritis. I was determined to get my health back and rid myself of years of stomach pain. My months of homework payed off, plus your website. I’m on my 3rd. week of Pilates which incorporates core exercises for strength. At first I was hesitant to tell my husband and friends that all the crunches and sit ups were my miracle. But.. eventually had to give a reason for the smile on my face every morning after exercise. Thanks for the kettlball move. I will definitely add that to my routine to keep my digestive system working properly and moving stinky things out. Lol.

  11. Reply

    Hi Shawn,

    I just wanted to say thank you for this blog. I came across it today and it is the most comprehensive collection of information on IBS that I have found.

    I have been having severe discomfort in my lower right abdomen for the last three weeks. I assumed it was an appendix issue but it hasn’t been painful, just extremely uncomfortable. It began with a feeling like a pulled muscle and then moved downwards. On the strangest day of it I felt like I had a thumb sized and shaped object in my right pelvic area. If it had begun to hurt at any point I was certainly going to see a doctor, but it seemed strange to go just for a feeling of discomfort. Until today I had no idea that this type of symptom could be caused by IBS. I am going to schedule an appointment with my gastroenterologist and discuss these new symptoms. I have been pushing some boundaries on my diet lately and that coupled with less physical activity in the last month is likely what caused this flare up.

    Thank you for this kettle ball exercise recommendation. I am certainly going to try it out.



  12. Reply

    First, your blog is fabulous. It’s looking like my 17mo. old may have IBS (lots of dr’s who can’t figure out what’s going wrong, IBS tips improve her symptoms, symptoms that sound like IBS despite her age…) and your approach to all of these issues really helps take the edge off and makes the whole thing less distressing.

    When you facepalmed for describing stool improvement I LOL’ed, and appreciate the description. I’ve become the poop-watcher 2000, every time kiddo gets a diaper change I’m hollering – bring me that so I can see it!

    My dad was just suggesting exercise for IBS despite her age last night, he’s in nursing, and said basically all of what you said above. No to go find a teeny tiny kettlebell :)

    • Reply

      Poopwatch 2000 made ME LOL. Thanks for the kind words Nicole. Good luck to your your 17 year old!!! – Shawn

  13. Reply


    thanks for this article , i have been suffering with ibs for 1,5 .i tried many difference probiotic but not helped at all..
    so i bought kettlebell (5kg) 3 days ago and i started to practice at home…

    i really hope this exercise will help me out

    god bless you all


    • Reply

      I SOOOOO hope it helps. It still does help me. I stopped for a while. Lazy. Then restarted and started seeing some benefits in about a week. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let us know back here what happens for you, whether it helps or (equally important) if it doesn’t. THANKS – Shawn.

  14. Reply

    you convinced me , what weight should I buy?

  15. Reply

    I am an avid runner, but that didn’t help my symptoms at all (in fact, I had to memorize every public restroom in town, just in case!) Kettlebell has definitely helped, though, and it’s been weeks since I’ve gotten caught 5 miles from home with my running pants down (so to speak).

  16. Reply

    Kettleball- very intriguing! Thank you. Along with Pilates comment it points to core work being essential, and probably is for everyone. Kettleball sounds like more fun to me and cheaper.

  17. Reply

    Pilates. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs gave me back my life. I had the same symptoms as yours for years and drs. Who did nothing.

    • Reply

      Thankyou Shawn I’ll be trying these simple steps …can’t make me worse and hopefully gain some core strength too .

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