Calgary

Study looks at whether exercise can help manage celiac disease

Some University of Calgary kinesiologists have launched a new study to look at how exercise can help people with celiac disease manage some painful side effects.

The only treatment is a gluten-free diet, but relief could be found at the gym

Justine Dowd is one of the researchers interested in whether exercise can help alleviate celiac disease symptoms. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Some University of Calgary kinesiologists have launched a new study to look at how exercise can help people with celiac disease manage some painful side effects.

Researchers say more than 110,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with the disease and that many more don't realize they have it.

All of them endure painful side effects like bloating and diarrhea and face increased risks of intestinal cancers and osteoporosis.

Interval training 

Researcher Justine Dowd says they want to see how exercise can help.

"This is the very first study, where we're looking at the effects of an exercise program on people with celiac disease," she said. 

"And so it will be an interval training program because there is some really neat research showing that there is some psychological and physical benefits of doing some more interval-style training rather than a continuous aerobic-type training."

Dowd said the only treatment for the disease is a gluten-free diet.

Still looking for volunteers

The researchers will spend the next several months educating study volunteers on diet and lifestyle changes as well as coping strategies.

But the team also wants to see if interval training exercise will help restore a better balance of gut bacteria and whether that will minimize some of those painful side effects.

"So giving strategies in addition to just following a gluten-free diet to help them feel better," said Dowd.

The researchers are looking for more volunteers, specifically adults who have been diagnosed with celiac disease who do not engage in regular exercise.

Those interested in participating can email the program at move@ucalgary.ca.

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