Sports and your ostomy

Tips for doing anything from yoga to team sports - and how to act around changing rooms.


Walking is an easy, gentle way to get back into a routine. It is also an activity that you can start soon after your surgery. Whether you walk inside (e.g. up and down stairs), or outside in the fresh air, it is an activity that you can gradually increase in both speed and distance.

You can challenge yourself by lengthening your route, walking up a hill or taking a detour through a park. When you challenge yourself to walk farther, your strength and endurance will improve.


If your doctor or ostomy care nurse gives you the go ahead, running is a very good way to get and stay in shape. If you are not used to running, you will need to start out slowly, alternating between running and walking.


Yoga and Thai Chi

Yoga and Tai Chi are other great way to exercise. It reduces stress, strengthens muscles and improves balance and flexibility. Yoga and Tai Chican be done anywhere, making it a perfect choice to get you started.

Both are very good if you haven't done much exercise before since it can be customized to any level.



No need to avoid the pool because you fear "others will know" about your ostomy, swimming and water aerobics are great ways to stay fit!

With your weight supported by the water, swimming gives your muscles a workout with minimal risk of injury. Swimming can also help you develop more flexibility, and it's a good option if you have arthritis.



Before cycling, you should check with your doctor or ostomy care nurse, as they will likely want to make sure your abdominal area is completely healed first. Cycling is an excellent option since it is a low-impact exercise that does not put too much strain on your abdomen.

If you have had surgery to remove the rectum, you will need to wait longer to begin, to allow this area to heal. Sitting on a bike seat too soon may be uncomfortable and may cause injury.

If you are not fully ready to exercise with others, obtain an indoor bike to use at home as this can be a great and convenient option. Before you know it, you will have the courage to take your training outside your home.



Golfing can be a great way to combine exercise with getting fresh air and spending time with friends.

You should be aware that because of the torque involved in a golf swing, playing golf could create a need for some extra security to your pouching system.


Strength training

A combination of strength training and cardio workout is an effective way to get fit. Strength training increases your endurance in other sports and reduces the risk of joint injury, it shapes your body and increases the rate at which you burn calories.

As we grow older, we gradually lose vital muscle mass. Strength training with weights or resistance bands will help you maintain or even build muscle, increasing your endurance, and reducing the risk of joint injury, shaping your body and helping you stay lean and healthy.

Team sports

Participating in a team sport may provide added incentive to develop an exercise routine. You may find it easier to overcome self-awareness concerns and find a good fit in team sports rather than individual sports.

Competitive sports can, however, be strenuous, so they may not be the best choice to start with if you haven't exercised much before. In any case be sure to check with your doctor or ostomy nurse, before you begin exercising.

What about changing rooms?

Being in a changing room with others can be a hurdle to overcome. As with so many other situations, just thinking through the likely reactions can be a big help. Would you prefer to conceal your pouch? There is no right or wrong choice, so just do what feels most comfortable for you.

However, and especially if you exercise with someone you know, consider if it might be easier in the long run to be open and upfront from the beginning, rather than having to think about it every time you exercise together.

A good plan would be to think your explanation through ahead of time. Perhaps you can simply take the initiative by saying it is your first time in a while - or that you have to take it slow today – as you have had abdominal surgery not too long ago. That is probably all the explanation you need.

This website includes general guidelines. Always follow the instructions by your healthcare provider.

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