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Do you love to play tennis or golf? Think there’s nothing better than jogging, yoga or going for a swim? That’s great! Having an ostomy should not prevent you from staying fit.
With your healthcare professional's permission, you can return to most sports and activities you enjoyed before your surgery. The only possible exceptions are contact sports (such as boxing, wrestling or football) because of injury risk to the stoma from a severe blow.
People living with an ostomy include competitive distance runners, weightlifters, skiers, swimmers and many other amateur and professional athletes. And if you didn’t workout before your ostomy surgery, there’s no time like the present to start.
Here are a few tips for resuming exercise and other physical activities:
Start slowly and go at your own pace. Your abdominal muscles will need some time to heal from your surgery. Your healthcare professional can tell you when and how to start exercising again.
Choose an activity you enjoy and that fits into your schedule at least three times a week, for a minimum of 30-60 minutes per session.
For the best experience, empty your pouch before you workout. Also, ensure your wafer has been on for at least an hour prior to getting wet or beginning any activity that will cause you to perspire.
Don't worry about breaking a sweat. Most ostomy pouching systems are water-resistant — even for swimming. Try using an ostomy belt or wearing an Ostomysecrets® wrap to help keep your pouch secure and supported against your body, which may help increase wear time. Learn more about how to overcome a hot and humid environment here.
For swimmers: cover the vent on your deodorizing filter with a filter cover to prevent water from entering the pouch. You can remove the cover once you are dry. Click here for more tips for swimming with an ostomy.
Want to relax in a sauna or hot tub? No problem, as long as this is approved by your healthcare professional. Simply add a water-resistant tape frame around your barrier to protect the adhesive, and be sure to check the seal periodically.
One man who has taken post-ostomy fitness to heart is Rob Hill. Rob went from barely being able to make it up a flight of stairs, to becoming the first Crohn's disease/ostomy patient to climb the Seven Summits (the highest mountain peaks on each continent) in just eight years1.
Over the next year and a half, Rob's condition worsened. His weight plummeted — from 185 pounds to his lightest recorded weight of 105 — and it became clear that his large intestine needed to be removed. "When it came down to losing my colon or losing my life, it wasn't a hard decision to make," he says. Eight years after his life-changing surgery, Rob decided to challenge the social stigma surrounding intestinal diseases and living with an ostomy.
After 10 years of flare-ups, hospitalizations and weight gain from medication due to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, Linda opted for ileostomy surgery. At age 51, her life began again. Now she uses her newfound zest and enjoyment for life to help others dealing with an intestinal disease.
"It was a huge shock when I needed emergency ileostomy surgery to treat life-threatening peritonitis. Even worse, the surgery didn’t go as planned, and I underwent five more operations over the next two years to treat various complications." Read more from Sarah and learn about her life with an ostomy.