Purpose No consensus exists regarding the use of preoperative bowel preparation for patients undergoing a low anterior resection (LAR). Several comparative studies show similar outcomes when a single time enema (STE) is compared with mechanical bowel preparation (MBP). It is hypothesized that STE is comparable with MBP due to a decrease in intestinal motility distal of a newly constructed diverting ileostomy (DI). Methods In this prospective single-centre cohort study, patients undergoing a LAR with primary anastomosis and DI construction were given a STE 2 h pre-operatively. Radio-opaque markers were inserted in the efferent loop of the DI during surgery, and plain abdominal X-rays were made during the first, third, fifth and seventh postoperative day to visualize intestinal motility. Results Thirty-nine patients were included. Radio-opaque markers were situated in the ileum or right colon in 100%, 100% and 97.1% of the patients during respectively the first, third and fifth postoperative day. One patient had its most distal marker situated in the left colon during day five. In none of the patients, the markers were seen distal of the anastomosis. Conclusion Intestinal motility distally of the DI is decreased in patients who undergo a LAR resection with the construction of an anastomosis and DI, while preoperatively receiving a STE.