What Kind Of Physical Activity Can I Do After Having Ostomy Surgery?

Before deciding what sports and activities you can do, it is essential to determine how your body has responded to the surgery and to ensure that it has healed. If you have no complications and your physician has no concerns, you can return to anything you want! Many people enjoy swimming, running, racquet sports, yoga, etc. – even contact sports and high-intensity sports like rugby and weightlifting are possible with a few extra precautions.

There are even professional athletes who have stomas! For example, Blake Beckford, a UK bodybuilder; Adele Roberts, a marathon runner and figure skater; and Rolf Benirschke, who played four seasons in the NFL with his ileostomy.

Talk to your doctor before engaging in high-intensity or contact sports, and consider using a hernia belt and/or stoma guard. Wearing a hernia belt is also a good idea if you or your surgeon are concerned about parastomal hernias.

Can I Participate In Water Sports With An Ostomy?

Ostomy bags are designed to stick even in water! They are water resistant and won’t leak if they have a proper seal, so you can go swimming without worrying. If you are worried about what people may think, you can always buy a swimsuit designed for ostomies or a swimsuit or beach wrap that covers it. There are even ostomy belts designed for swimming if you want to feel more secure. Check out these Ostomy Canada blog posts for more info:

Should I Be Worried About My Stoma During Sports?

While this is a valid question, there is no reason to be worried about your stoma during sports! Stomas are much more resilient than they appear. The tissue is strong and quite difficult to injure by engaging in physical activity. However, there is more of a risk of injuring your stoma during a contact sport, where using a stoma guard would be highly recommended to keep you safe. While being cautious is good, especially as you start re-introducing physical activity, stomas can withstand more than you think. Here are a few stoma guards available in Canada:

Tips For Returning To Physical Activity After Ostomy Surgery

Avoid heavy lifting for at least 3 months post-surgery, and make sure to speak with your stoma nurse or primary physician before returning to exercise. Practice abdominal strengthening exercises such as pelvic tilts, abdominal sit-ups, lying knee raises and light cardio such as walks and swimming. It is also helpful to maintain a good posture as this will strengthen your core as well. When you begin exercising, make sure that you gradually increase the intensity, so your body has time to adapt – do not risk pushing yourself too hard too fast.

Introduce a hernia support belt when engaging in physical activity. Hernia support belts are designed to act as compression garments, providing an additional layer of support on the stoma and abdominal wall to decrease the risk of developing a hernia. They are easy to wear and easy to remove, so they are great for at-home use.

Tips To Stay Hydrated During Physical Activity With An Ostomy

As someone with a stoma, becoming dehydrated is definitely something to be aware of. Maintaining hydration during sports and physical activity is key to staying healthy and avoiding complications. Remember that the typical guidelines for water intake are based on people who have all their organs, so it might be a good idea to talk with your doctor for specific recommendations, especially if you live a highly active lifestyle. Ensure you get enough hydrating fluids throughout the day, not just during or after sports. Another excellent resource for stoma patients is electrolytes, they are especially helpful during sports as you lose salts and minerals when you sweat. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are typically the key ingredients as well as finding a supplement low in added sugar. Try using an oral rehydrating solution (ORS), like adding salt to Gatorade G2, to achieve the perfect mix of sugars and salts for your body to absorb the liquid. Here is an excellent resource to calculate how much ORS you should drink to stay hydrated, including a homemade ORS recipe. Try drinking before eating to help absorb liquids.

This summer, the Ostomy Canada Magazine will feature an informative article on ostomy hydration by Dr. Maitreyi Raman, a gastroenterologist and hydration expert. Subscribe today by becoming an Ostomy Supporter for a minimum donation of only $25 per year. Visit our website to sign up: www.ostomycanada.ca/donation.

By Hannah Martin-Spencer, Ostomy Canada Marketing Team.

Hannah, a passionate 23-year-old from the Greater Toronto Area, is expanding her expertise in acupuncture at a Calgary post-secondary institution. With a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Psychology, she blends her knowledge into her new acupuncture pursuit. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 16 and unsuccessful biological drug treatments, she underwent ileostomy surgery at 20. Hannah is driven to advocate for ostomy individuals. As a new volunteer, she will support Ostomy Canada with social media and fundraising. She enjoys outdoor activities, baking, and painting in her free time. Hannah’s journey of resilience and determination, with her ostomy transformation showcasing her strength, aims to inspire and support the ostomy community.

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