Urge to Urinate While Exercising

The sudden urge to urinate during exercise and even the occasional issue with bladder leakage can be attributed to a condition known as stress incontinence 1. Stress incontinence is the result of weakened vaginal and urethral muscles 1. As muscles become thinner, it becomes harder to stop the flow of urine. While it's a common and usually harmless problem, it can certainly cause problems when you're exercising, particularly if you allow your incontinence to stop you from regular physical activity.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


The sudden urge to urinate while exercising or losing control of your bladder is more common in women. Women who have undergone hormonal changes because of pregnancy or menopause might experience a thinning of the urethral walls, which results in less control over the bladder. For men, an enlarged prostate gland puts pressure on the bladder, which can result in the constant urge to urinate and not always being able to empty the bladder completely. This spells trouble when exercising because stress is placed on the urethra and bladder.


While stress incontinence and the urge to urinate while exercising are both fairly normal reactions, especially as you age, it's an embarrassing problem 1. Knowing that you might not make it to the restroom in time or may experience leakage could be enough to stop you from leading an active lifestyle. You could also suffer from skin irritation, especially if you experience leakage but continue to exercise in damp underwear and pants. Wearing incontinence pads can help keep you dry, while talking to your doctor about treatment options can help you get back in the game.


Talking with your doctor about the problem can help you find solutions to your problem with frequent urination and incontinence. As long as your need to urinate is normal, your doctor might suggest Kegel exercises, which are a tensing of the muscles that stop the flow of urine for a stronger urethra. In severe cases, he might suggest surgery to create a bladder hammock, which helps to support the bladder in the correct position after prolapse. If you're a man with an enlarged prostate, your doctor might prescribe medications to help relieve the swelling to lessen the pressure on your bladder.


Overhydration can be one of the main culprits behind your need to urinate while exercising. While drinking water during exercise is important for hydration, drinking more than 7 to 10 oz. of water every 10 to 20 minutes is enough to hydrate your body. Too much water will fill your bladder quickly, resulting in a sudden need to urinate. Always urinate just before you begin to exercise and know the location of the restrooms at all times so you can relieve yourself when necessary.