Don’t let a weak bladder stop you from exercising

Jun 12, 2020
Here’s how to manage incontinence while working out. Source: Getty.

For many people with urinary incontinence, working out can be a stressful time. Exercises such as skipping, running or jumping become no-go activities in order to avoid embarrassment. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and there are things you can do to make exercise less nerve-wracking and more enjoyable.

Why urinary incontinence occurs

Experiencing bladder leakage when exercising can be caused by a condition called stress incontinence, when you accidently leak urine while sneezing, coughing, laughing or exercising. It’s generally a result of a weak pelvic floor.

According to the Continence Foundation, stress incontinence in women is often caused by pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. While many men develop stress incontinence after prostate surgery. Other contributing factors include diabetes, a chronic cough, constipation and obesity.

Tips for exercising with incontinence

With the help of Mica Phillips from Aeroflow Healthcare, we’ve looked at some of the best ways to manage incontinence while exercising.

Pelvic floor exercises

One way many people can strengthen their bladder is through pelvic floor exercises, Mica tells Starts at 60. He says low-intensity activities like Pilates, yoga and swimming are great for strengthening your pelvic floor. He also advises speaking to your GP who can recommend some at-home pelvic floor exercises. However, Phillips adds it’s important to note that it can take anywhere from three months to 12 months to notice improvements.

“Stress incontinence is often tied to a weakened pelvic floor,” he says. “The good news is there are various exercises and steps you can take to strengthen these muscles.”

Bladder protection products

If you want to continue to exercise with incontinence, Phillips reckons wearing protective underwear or disposable incontinence pads when you’re exercising is the best way to go. Alternatively, there are pee-proof active shorts on the market as well. The shorts themselves have built-in undies designed for maintaining bladder leakage.

Empty your bladder

“It may sound like common sense, but be sure to fully empty your bladder prior to starting your workout,” Phillips says. And while it’s important to keep hydrated during a workout, be mindful of how much you’re drinking and how full your bladder is feeling. Don’t be afraid to use the bathroom mid-workout if needed.

Watch what you eat and drink

Phillips recommends sticking to just water before your workout, as beverages such as coffee or juice can actually increase your bladder activity and urgency. Meanwhile, spicy foods and tomato-based foods like pizza and salsa, and even chocolate can also irritate your bladder.

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