Exercise and Stress Incontinence
“If I exercise I leak, so I won’t exercise”
Does this sound familiar? Everyone knows that exercise is good for your body, but it’s hard to be motivated if you think exercise will lead to an embarrassing moment. A recent study shows a correlation between exercise and urinary incontinence – the more sedentary lifestyles were tied to higher rates of incontinence.
It’s a catch 22 for women with stress incontinence – exercise can help reduce symptoms, (especially if obesity is a factor), however many women find increased incidents of leaking during exercise. So what to do? Consider exercises that support the core and pelvic floor management and avoid intense bouncing movements (such as jumping jacks – we hate jumping jacks!!) or abrupt core muscle contractions.
Though this study shows a link between incontinence and exercise, it doesn’t look at the question of whether exercise is being avoided because of the urinary incontinence or whether more abundant exercise helped to keep symptoms in check.
The urogynaecologist on this research team suggests that health care professionals should be asking openly whether urinary incontinence is a barrier to exercise. If a patient has stress incontinence, they could be guided towards exercises that minimize strain on the pelvic floor. Acknowledging that stress incontinence could be preventing an active lifestyle is a first step towards finding ways to stay active despite the condition.