Poop can be a sensitive topic for some, but not here at Lifehacker: We have a crap ton to say about the subject, from a simple way to make yourself poop to evaluating the shape and colour of it. Today's poop-related matter? How long it should take to do the deed, according to science.
Image by PeterGriffin.
Dear Lifehacker, Like most people, I've pooped a lot in my lifetime. Usually things follow a fairly predictable pattern, but now and then I've seen unusual colours and shapes. I don't feel bad or have any discomfort, but I'm concerned these changes might mean something. How can I figure out when I should be concerned about the shape and colour of my poop?
A recent study in the appropriately named Soft Matter found that mammals across various species and sizes take, on average, 12 seconds to do their thing. That includes humans, of course. The time it took various animals — regardless of size and mass — to finish number two remained relatively consistent, with the quickest at about five seconds and the longest taking 19 seconds.
The researchers arrived at these findings after collecting and analysing 23 videos of various mammalian species relieving themselves. "There's a surprising amount of poop videos online," one of the researchers, Patricia Yang from Georgia Institute of Technology, told New Scientist. Mostly from tourists who visit the zoos to film and upload the videos online, she adds. One reason for this consistent duration:
Yang also found that the normal, low-level pressure animals apply to push through a bowel movement is constant, and unrelated to a creature's body mass. This means that, whether it's a human or a mouse, the pressure used on normal excrement is the same.
For our purposes, the duration of your BM can be a strong indicator of your overall health. Let's be clear that the average of 12 seconds doesn't include your "sitting time". But if you're sitting there for aeons with nothing to show for it, it might be a sign that you're constipated. One thing you can do is make sure you drink enough water. Or if you're discharging too quickly, there may be other underlying health issues.
Bonus points if you're reading this article while you're on the throne.
Hydrodynamics of defecation [Soft Matter (via New Scientist)]