woman running in park

Physical activity with an ostomy

Exercise with an ostomy can accelerate recovery, enhance balance and flexibility, boost self-confidence, increase energy, and decrease stress.

woman running in park

Your path to working out

Navigating an exercise plan after ostomy surgery can be a journey filled with questions and concerns. It's crucial to balance activity with safety to support your healing process.

IMPORTANT: Before beginning any exercise program, consult with your doctor. 

Preparation for exercise

Consult your doctor before beginning exercise. Be aware of the weakened muscles around the stoma and minimize your hernia risk.

Limitations and support

  • Avoid lifting over eight pounds, especially in the first six weeks after surgery. 
  • To provide extra support, use ostomy support belts when engaging abdominal muscles.

Take a walk

Walking is a safe and effective exercise for healing and overall health. 

Take it easy

Exercise cautiously and allow ample healing time, especially for perineal wounds. 

Listen to your body

If you experience pain or discomfort, stop exercise immediately. Build up your routine gradually, staying in tune with your body’s responses.

Stay hydrated

  • Stay adequately hydrated before, during, and after workouts
  • Stop exercising if you become dizzy, nauseated, or lightheaded
  • Always empty the ostomy bag pre-workout

Physical activities for ostomates

Check with your doctor before starting any sports or fitness activities, especially those involving contact or bending. If approved, you can participate in just about any type of exercise.

man walking dog in woods


Start your on your fitness path with walking. You can do this almost immediately after surgery. Slowly increase the distance and pace over time.

bike along fence


With surgeon approval, biking -- a low-impact activity -- is beneficial post-surgery. If the anus is removed, expect a longer healing period before starting.

feet diving into water


Water supports your weight, reducing injury risk and improving flexibility. Ensure your ostomy device is waterproof or use products like Sure Seal. Be sure to check for any leaks damage after swimming and carry backup supplies in your gym bag.

yoga mat unrolling


Yoga reduces stress and improves balance, breathing, and muscle strength. Check with your doctor before beginning, as incision sites should be fully healed before starting your plan. When starting, go at your own pace.

men playing volleyball

Team sports

Ask your surgeon before starting competitive sports. Empty your pouch before playing and consider wearing tight waistbands or stoma guards for protection. Always check your stoma afterward and report damage or injuries to your doctor right away.

man holding stomach in pain

Focus on your core first

By prioritizing abdominal exercise, you can enhance support of your stoma, reduce the risk of hernias, improve your posture and balance, and accelerate healing and recovery.

Abdomen-specific exercises

These exercises can help recover and restore muscle strength in your abdomen. Talk to your doctor before beginning these routines.

Tummy tightening breathing

Lie down, knees bent, head on a pillow. Inhale, then exhale, tightening lower abdomen for 3-5 seconds. Relax. Repeat 3-5 times, increasing tightening time as comfortable.

Pelvic tilt

Lie on your back with knees bent. Gently rock pelvis up, flattening your back. Stay in a pain-free range of motion. Your abdomen and glutes should tighten. Begin with five repetitions. Perform two to three times daily.

Hip lift or bridge

Lie on your back, knees bent. Tilt pelvis and tighten pelvic muscles. Slowly lift and lower your bottom, one vertebra at a time, like a chain necklace lifts off a table. Start with three to five times daily, aiming for 10-15 reps, gradually lifting higher.

Knee rolls

Lie on your back, knees bent, arms to the side. Slowly move knees from side to side, tightening the abdomen. Begin with five reps, two to three times daily, and gradually increase to 20. Stay within a pain-free range of motion.

Keep a journal of your progress

Feeling accomplished is one of the great benefits of exercise. Keeping a record will show your progress. You'll probably be surprised by the speed of your recovery.

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