What Exercises Can a Person With a Colostomy Do?

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If you have a colostomy, your doctor may have advised you to avoid exercise post operatively. Following your doctor's advice is imperative, of course, but it does not mean that you cannot exercise ever again. Gwen Trunbull, RN, of Ostomy Wound Management suggests that exercise plays an important role in overall good health. Ostomy patients can exercise, but it is important to get the okay from your doctor before you begin.

Before You Begin

Exercise is important to avoid post operative weight gain. Obesity often results in an interference with ostomy pouch adherence to your skin. This can result in the need for frequent clinic visits and will drive up the cost of your care. Talk with your doctor before you begin an exercise program to be sure the exercises you want to pursue do not interfere with the condition that caused your need for colostomy or any other chronic medical conditions you may have. Following abdominal surgery, there is the possibility of developing a post operative hernia. This is one reason it is important to seek guidance before you begin your exercise program. Your physician may have a preferred type of exercise he wants his patients to engage in.

Endurance Exercises

Walking is an excellent endurance exercise. Activity is important to protect your health status, and walking is free. If your health care provider referred you to a physical therapist, she will help determine how to begin your walking program. Most likely, you will begin slowly and work up to a longer distance and a brisker pace. Be sure to empty your colostomy pouch before you begin. Walking can also help reduce the incidence of constipation and acts as a stress reducer. You can reinforce or brace your pouch with additional tape before you begin your walk. Ask your ostomy nurse or health care provider for details on how best to accomplish this.

Balance and Flexibility Exercises

Yoga is an exercise that everyone can participate in. Learning different yoga poses can be somewhat challenging; working with a teacher if at all possible is recommended. Tell the instructor that you have a colostomy; this information will help him determine if there are any poses that would not be beneficial for you. It is possible to find inexpensive or free instruction in your community. Talk with the therapists you work with or call the social work department at your local hospital -- they may have resources to suggest.

Strength Exercises

The type of strengthening exercises that could be right for you are often based on your physical condition prior to surgery. If you are fit and were exercising regularly, you will likely be able to resume some of your regular strength building exercises. If your abdominal muscles were weak before you had surgery, strengthening them will be important. Because of the risk of developing a parastomal hernia or a hernia near your colostomy outlet, work with your physical therapist or health care provider who will determine which approach is best suited to your condition.