Exercising with Incontinence

New Year’s Day may lead the way when it comes to new gym memberships and plans to get healthy, but these first few weeks of October come in a close second. Anytime is the right time to get into shape but there’s something about the cooler air and that back-to-school vibe that makes autumn a perfect time to renew those fitness goals. Whether it’s a bike ride in the park, a hike in the mountains, or a Zumba class at your local gym, the cooler air invites us all to get moving. 

Sure exercise is a great way to lose weight, but its benefits also include helping to prevent or manage several health conditions, such as diabetes, depression, and several types of cancer. Physical activity also improves your mood by stimulating the brain chemicals that make you happy and helps you sleep better throughout the night. 

Even with all this knowledge many people with incontinence are still hesitant to exercise. If you are one of the 200 million people worldwide with incontinence, exercise is essential. It provides you with a way to lessen or eliminate your condition by curtailing obesity and strengthening your pelvic floor.  Some may be concerned about leaks and other may worry about odors, but there are solutions. Here are five tips to manage incontinence while you get in shape. 

Choose the right clothing

Stick with dark-colored clothes that fit loosely, especially if you wear some form of incontinence pad, and always bring a spare change of clothes just in case accidents occur. You can also try wearing triathlon shorts. In an article in Everyday Health, physical therapist Tasha Mulligan says these shorts “help provide compression and support for you pelvic floor, as well as a light pad to absorb moisture.” 

Choose the right exercise

Mulligan also advises choosing exercises that “lift your chest, lengthen your spine, and reduce bladder pressure, ” such as swimming, yoga, and bicycling. Until your pelvic floor is stronger it’s best to avoid high-impact exercises that include running, jumping, or changing directions quickly. In the meantime, practice those Kegels and be sure to lift and contract your pelvic floor muscles before any type of resistance training. 

Watch what you drink

It’s important to stay hydrated before, during, and after any type of exercise, but stick with water and avoid caffeinated drinks. The caffeine in coffee, tea, and sodas acts as a diuretic and may lead to leaks. However, it’s also important not to overdo the water. Overfilling your bladder increases the risk of leakage. 

Try bladder training

Make sure to use the bathroom immediately before exercising. You may also want to try keeping a bladder diary that keeps track of how often you use the bathroom. After a few days start waiting five minutes before visiting the bathroom. Then stretch it out to 10 minutes. Keep extending the time until you can go for an hour or more between bathroom visits.  

Try a therapeutic pessary

If all else fails, try a pessary, which is a round object (usually made of silicone, rubber, or plastic) that is worn in the vagina to prevent leakage. Resembling the outer ring of a diaphragm, therapeutic pessaries are commonly used to treat a prolapsed uterus. Many women see this as a perfect solution because you can wear it during the day and take it out at night. However, you must see your doctor to make sure it is fitted correctly.

Don’t let incontinence and a fear of leaks keep you from leading an active life. Remaining sedentary not only puts your overall health at risk, but it also eliminates any chance of improving your bladder health. No exercise means potential weight gain, which means more tension placed on your already weak pelvic floor. Keep up with those Kegels and follow the exercises on the Carin app. Then take a walk one cool, fall morning and make sure to kick the newly fallen leaves as you go – your mind and body will thank you for it. 

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