Back to living with a stoma

Exercise and physical activity

It’s no secret that exercising is a crucial part of maintaining your physical and mental health, and this is no different for those with a stoma.

Once you have fully recovered and have permission from your doctor or stoma care nurse, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get into a routine of regular exercise and physical activity. Whatever type of exercise you choose to do, as long as you keep a few things in mind, there’s no reason why you can’t get active without any issues or concerns.

Ease your way back into your fitness routine

Take your time getting back into an exercise routine. If you’ve recently had stoma surgery, the last thing you want to do is dive straight back into an intense and exhausting training programme, you need to give your body time to recover first! 

Speak to your doctor and once you are given the all-clear, ease your way back into your fitness routine. It may even be worth speaking to a physiotherapist or a fitness trainer experienced in working with post-surgery recovery, as both will be able to guide you in the right direction in your fitness routine. 

Rebuild your core strength

Given that an ostomy occurs in the abdomen area, your core fitness will have been seriously impacted. While it’s true that everyone needs to focus on their core strength in the gym, it’s especially important for ostomates. Good exercises to start with include abdominal curls and oblique curls. 

Do some weight training

In order to build lean muscle mass, you’ll need to add some weight training to your plan, and yes you can lift weights with a stoma. As long as you’ve allowed your body adequate time to recover and have built up some core strength, you can start lifting light to moderate weights. 

Going to the gym

Whether you love it or you hate it, the gym is a great place to go to get fit. The good news is, having a stoma won’t stop you from going to the gym. Once you’ve been given the all-clear from your doctor, you can get straight back on the treadmill, in the weights area, or whatever else your routine consists of. However, it’s extremely important not to overdo it!

Easing your way back into it and starting off with a couple of sessions per week is a good starting point. Once you are feeling stronger, you can then increase the number of sessions you do, as well as the intensity of those sessions. 

Emptying your stoma bag before and after the gym is a good way to keep yourself feeling fresh and to avoid any leakages. You could also opt for a stoma belt which keeps your bag close to your torso and prevents it from moving around throughout your gym session.


Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise for people with a stoma as it promotes cardiovascular fitness and toning. However, many ostomates understandably have concerns about swimming, such as worrying about their bag leaking or feeling self-conscious in front of others in the pool. 

It’s important to remember that your stoma bag is water-resistant and the adhesion won’t be affected in water, therefore you don’t need to worry about leakages or your bag falling off in the water.

It’s also important to note that all of us have different comfort levels for revealing their stoma. While some people are completely comfortable with showing their stoma, others prefer to keep it hidden and wear a t-shirt or a swimming costume that covers it up. Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing is that you feel 100% comfortable, after all, swimming is supposed to be an enjoyable experience.

Contact sports

If you prefer to play team or contact sports, that’s completely fine. Having a stoma just means that you need to plan ahead, but you can still continue to participate in your favourite sports. 

You may be worried about your stoma getting damaged during contact sports, however, this is unlikely as long as you make sure it is recovered from your stoma surgery. Another common concern is that the pouch could rip off during sports, to avoid this, many people like to wear a firmly-fitted ostomy belt to hold their bag in place. 

Competitive sports call for both skill and fitness. Therefore, it is essential to build-up to the required level of fitness before returning to the football or rugby pitch.

Other forms of exercise

There are so many different types of exercise and sports out there to keep you fit and healthy, having a stoma certainly shouldn’t hold you back. Whether a game of tennis is your thing or just a relaxing walk with your family, it is possible to continue almost any type of exercise after your stoma surgery.

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