Sport and your stoma

Sport and your stoma

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 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. Start at just 5 minutes and work up from there.

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.

walking is a gentle way to get back into sports routine


If your doctor or stoma 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. The Couch to 5K programme is a great way to start.


Yoga is another great way to get exercise. It reduces stress, strengthens muscles and improves balance and flexibility. Yoga can be done anywhere, making it a perfect choice to get you started.

Yoga is also very good if you haven't done much exercise before since it can be customised to any level.


Don't avoid the pool because you fear "others will know" about your stoma, swimming and water aerobics are great ways to keep 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 are bothered by arthritis.


Before cycling, you should check with your doctor or stoma care nurse, as they will likely want to make sure your abdominal area is completely healed first. But after that, 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 of course need to wait longer to begin, to allow this area to heal. Sitting on a bike seat too soon will be uncomfortable and may cause injury.

In case you are not completely ready to exercise with others or where others can see you, getting an indoor bike to use at home 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 terrific way to combine exercise with getting fresh air and spending time with good friends. And with a little preparation, there is no reason to hold back if you are planning on hitting the links.

You should, however, be aware that because of the torque involved in a golf swing, playing golf could entail a need for some extra security to your pouching solution such as a support garment or additional ostomy accessories.

Strength training

A combination of strength training and cardio workout is the very best way to get fit. Strength training makes your body more enduring in other sports and reduces the risk of joint injury, it shapes your body and sends your calorie burning skyrocketing.

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, making your body more enduring and reducing the risk of joint injury, shaping your body and helping you stay lean and healthy.

team sports can help you maintain sports routine

Team sports

Having other people rely on your being there might provide that final spark to get out the door and develop the exercise habit, and many find it easier to overcome self-awareness issues and immerse themselves 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 stoma 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. Will you try to hide the pouch? Or will you change as you would normally? There is no right or wrong, so just do what feels best 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.

It can be good 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 stomach 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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