Training with Colitis or Crohns


Hi everyone,

Several years ago I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.

In the past several years I’ve suffered with a condition called neutrophenia, which is low white cells.

I’m not sure how this has or will be affecting my training and/or if my training could be causing it or in someway increasing it.

Whenever I’ve spoken to my consultant I’ve been ensured that I don’t need to worry about it but I feel like I can sometimes take longer to recover from workouts and that I get colds and such like more often if I’m training hard.

Does anyone have any experience training with IBD, have you found anything which makes the disease worse or better?

It would be great to hear from anyone else training with these diseases and their experiences.

I’m currently receiving biological therapy by way of infliximab infusions every 8 weeks. So no steroids or immune suppression or modulation.


I have no specific advice but colitis is an inflammatory disease so it could easily have an effect on your recovery period. Likewise the neutropenia will not help with avoiding coughs/colds etc.

I wish you all the best and hope you can get some useful advice. My wife has Lupus and is immunosuppressed so training has become much harder. She did manage to train for and complete the London marathon last year though.


This is one I can understand a lot. I had to have a colostomy in 2010 due to colitis. I have no advice because I was in my fat lad mode then but I can 100% sympathise. There are some excellent cyclists at ostomy lifestyle athletes on Facebook who may be able to give you some advice on how they went before surgery


I have had Crohns most of my life. Two major surgeries 27 years apart with long periods of remission. I started riding my Bike a few years ago after my last major surgery. I started riding to be able to do something as I was advised to not run(major piece of mesh keeps my insides together after my last surgery). I am now 58 so age will play a factor in my recovery process as well.

For the last three years I have been using Trainer Road. I found getting started on a trainer to be very very hard. I had a weak core to work on…and had been seriously ill for a number of years. Muscles needed a lot of time to adapt. I rode fairly consistently 2-3 times a week at the start. Muscle recovery/tightness were what I struggled with. Taking food early on my rides did make a difference in how I handled the 50 -90 minute timeline. Increasing muscle endurance was my biggest challenge.

A year ago I was regularly going to physio to deal with the tightness and aches I would get. Doing various exercises to deal with muscle imbalance helped. This year the riding was a lot easier. Muscles finally are not getting hurt from my riding. Cardio has improved significantly. Rides that I used to find impossible to deal with are now able to be completed. For example riding at 120% FTP for the required interval was something I just couldnt do as the intervals progressed The trainer would lock up as I couldnt maintain the cadence in Erg mode. A combination of greater muscle strength and cardio now make them able to be done.

For me riding every second day is fine. Riding back to back days ie Saturday and Sunday is what I avoid as I would often just ride too hard and get myself hurt.

If I do get tired I will skip a day. The hardest thing at times to do is get on the bike and stop as you realize you are only going to hurt yourself.

As to the disease itself. I changed my food roughly when I started to ride. I removed sugar from my diet and tend to eat more non processed foods. My crohns disease doesnt let me eat a lot of leafy vegetables and roughage. I have found that ensuring I eat protein at each meal is critical to my recovery and well being.

I also changed my sleep habits and now consistently get 7-8 hours of sleep vs the 5-6 I used to function on.

If you have any specific questions re the disease/riding dont hesitate to ask.



I have UC and, for years, trained normally, albeit only during remission. Luckily, while my flare ups are quite severe, i have enjoyed long periods of remission in between. I get stomach cramps when i do really high intensity stuff and i avoid sugary gels like the plague. My main problem these days is sleep, which hasn’t been the same since i was treated with IV hydrocortisone (post-infliximab, which didn’t work). Now i struggle with fatigue and (slow) recovery. Unfortunately, with UC, every person’s experience seems to be different - there are not many rules that work for everyone. My inspiration has always been (5x gold medal Olympic rower) Steve Redgrave, who has UC (as well as diabetes now).


I’m 34 and I’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s/Colitis since I was 12. I currently take Humira. My personal experience has been that exercise, historically only strength training, but since April has included TrainerRoad, does wonders for keeping my Crohn’s in remission. I’ve never felt better since starting TR. Whenever I stop exercising regularly is when flare ups occur. Diet of course also makes a big difference. Low sugar, low processed is important, but I’ve also found high protein and high soluble fiber (oats, avocado, black beans) to work wonders. There is a growing body of research around Crohn’s and exercise. For example, this article discusses how cycling can improve your gut bacteria, increasing the amount of anti-inflammatory variety in your gut. I would encourage you to stick with it and try including more foods in your diet which boost your immune system due to your white blood cell count. It’s frustrating how long it can take, but persistence and experimentation can help.


I’d never considered that exercise could help my UC, I suppose I had always thought that it would increase the stress on my body. Perhaps I might go back and look at the timings of any flares and if I had been training or not.


Interesting to read your comments as it mirrors what I have found over the years. Cutting back on sugar and low processed is very helpful for me. I did both the change in diet and the exercise at the same time so hard to say if the cycling or the food change was the biggest factor. I do feel better though after riding.