We need to talk about the crappy reality of why you need to poo when you exercise.

We have some tips to help save you from the humiliation of your own exercise shit-uation.

At the beginning of 2015 I started a challenge which required me to walk 4km a day for a month.

I don’t know where I saw the idea or why I was attracted to it, but I was really enjoying it.

I was enjoying it so much that I was 57 days in.

Most days I had walked further than the minimum of 4km. I had walked over 250km and I was feeling pretty damn good about myself. If I’m totally honest, I was certain that the posts I had planned in my mind about the challenge would no doubt be fitspo to many and that I was on the verge of big things. I really am full of myself sometimes.

Day 57 changed everything though.

On day 57 I pooped myself when I was 4km from home. 4km. Four freaking kilometres.

It was the stuff of nightmares. Image via Giphy.

At the beginning of my walk I felt fine. Halfway through my walk I felt a little strange, but nothing to write home about. As I approached the 4km mark, close to turning around and heading home, it happened.

It came on suddenly and despite a quick stop pretending to tie up my shoelaces while subtly trying to hold everything in with my heel, it happened.


I would like to note here that normally I wear leggings when I exercise because, well, I like to feel and look like a seal but on day 57, that fateful day, I decided to wear a loose pair of short shorts because the sun was shining. Screw you sun.

I maintain to this day, that leggings may have been able to contain the onslaught, that I may have been able to waddle home with some dignity.

From where I would rather be. Image via Giphy

Unfortunately for me, short shorts don’t offer any dignity.

So I did what any self-respecting girl does when she has just pooped herself, in short shorts, on the bike track, 4km from home – I went behind a bush, disposed of my undies, cleaned myself up as best I could and waddled home with my head held high and somehow I managed to get out of it with just a couple of strange glances and one dog sniffing my leg.

An 'oh shit' moment if I've ever had one.

Until recently I was mortified that the above events had actually happened and had naturally decided to bury them in a dark place in my mind.

Then I had a conversation with a friend, let's call her Fionna because well, that's her name (sorry not sorry) and we stumbled onto the topic of poo because we are classy humans. (Post continues after gallery).


Specifically we were talking about the fact that when exercising, particularly walking or running, the need to do a quick poo was sometimes impossible to ignore and had left us in some pretty shitty situations.

As we talked and laughed about near misses and not so fortunate times that perhaps didn't end so well, rather than feel disgusted or ashamed, I began to feel happy because if Fionna could relate perhaps others could too.

Maybe I wasn't alone in the desperate poo related moments I had experienced kilometres from home.

And according to Dr Mayur Garg a gastroenterologist from Eastern Health I am not alone. In fact "about a quarter to a third of people get some abdominal symptoms, such as needing to do a poo or having looser stools, when undertaking physical activity".

Thank you Oprah, Nutella and all things that are great in the world.

Can I get a whoop-whoop? Image via Giphy

Although celebrations are definitely in order, a third is a lot of people after all, maybe cancel the skywriting because despite the connection between poo and exercise the specific reason remains a medical mystery.


How crappy.

Although a number of theories exist and a number of studies have been completed in the area "looking at blood flow to the gut, the rate at which it contracts and the digestion of carbohydrates in the bowel during exercise", there is no definitive answer explaining the urgent need to poo during exercise.

Dr Garg did, however,  suggest that "part of the explanation may be something simple like repetitive mechanical movements causing stool to move into the rectum from higher up".

That's it, I'm done, I am never exercising again. Like ever.

How I'm feeling right about now. Image via Giphy.

Now before you swear off exercise like me, there are things you can do to, ahem, stem the flow.

Dr Garg suggests the following tips for those who may have found themselves in a shitty situation or two, although "none of these have actually been studied in a clinical trial for people with exercise-related symptoms".

  1. Try to do a poo before exercise.
  2. Reduce your intake of certain carbohydrates in the hour or two before exercise.
  3. Maintain your fluid intake during exercise.
  4. Avoid some anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen) before exercise unless required.

There you have it.

From now on you'll find me exercising close to home, just in case. You can never be too safe after all.