Tips for a Healthy & Safe Exercise Program Despite Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a condition that can affect men and women of any age despite the public’s misperception that it’s a condition that primarily affects the elderly or the infirm. The term urinary incontinence refers to the involuntary loss of some or all of the bladder’s contents in persons of either sex. According specialists, as many as 20 percent of adult women suffer from incontinence issues. The usual causes of female incontinence issues arise from childbirth or athletic injuries. Men frequently experience incontinence after surgery to the prostate gland.

“Do’s” for a Exercising Safely Despite Incontinence

  • Do use absorbent pads or incontinence panties or incontinence briefs beneath your workout apparel. Some individuals prefer loose-fitting clothing such as yoga pants while others suggest triathlon shorts.
  • Do choose black for your exercise apparel, as this tends to show wetness less than other color fabrics.
  • Do take bathroom breaks before an exercise class begins.
  • Do take bathroom breaks between different exercise sets. For instance, take a bathroom break before you hit the treadmill and then afterwards, before you work out with light dumbbells.
  • If necessary, do work with a personal trainer to instruct you in proper lifting or exercise techniques to avoid holding your breath during repetitions. Holding your breath increases the pressure inside your torso and can contribute to incontinence caused by increased pressure on your bladder.
  • For women, use a tampon during exercise to increase physical pressure against the urethra.
  • Do include Kegel exercises and other oblique and abdominal exercises as part of your regular exercise routine. These types of exercises are designed to increase intra-abdominal and pelvic floor strength. Tasha Mulligan recommends a complete series of exercises on the National Association for Continence (NAFC) organization’s website.
  • Do use an anti-slip yoga or exercise mat whenever your feet are on the floor. These lightweight and easily transportable mats can help you avoid slipping and falling if an accident occurs.
  • Do tuck a small “sweat towel” into the waistband of your workout wear. Sit on it when you’re doing bench work should any of your weightlifting contribute to an episode of incontinence.
  • Do consider switching from high impact exercises to lower impact routines if you find that bouncing and jumping contribute to incontinence.
  • Stay active!

“Don’ts” to Avoid in Order to Exercise Safely with Incontinence

  • Don’t drink fluids with caffeine — sodas, coffee, tea or some energy drinks — before your scheduled exercise session.
  • Don’t take medications that cause you to loose fluids, such as diuretics used to decrease your blood pressure by decreasing the amount of excess fluid in your bloodstream.
  • Don’t eat spicy foods, which may irritate your bladder and contribute to frequent urination.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes or cigars. Nicotine contributes to bladder irritation.
  • Don’t use an electric heating pad to treat muscle soreness from exercise. Adhesive pads that hold heat producing materials are much safer than risking an accident with an electrical appliance.
  • Don’t use your incontinence as an excuse for not exercising. Stay active!

In Conclusion

As emphasized by doctors, nurses and fitness trainers, incontinence issues need not result in decreasing or ceasing an exercise program. Instead, healthcare professionals encourage people with incontinent issues to continue with exercise to promote overall health. Sufferers may need to modify their exercises, diets and habits, however, to decrease the effects of their condition and to be able to exercise safely.



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