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Exercising for Health and Enjoyment


Performing just a few simple exercises for 20 – 30 minutes a day can benefit you in more ways than you might think.

If you recently had your ostomy surgery, or do not exercise regularly and want to get into a workout routine, start slowly. Even star athletes don’t jump right back into their sport after an injury! Take it easy at first and gradually build your stamina.

Exercises that involve smooth, fluid movements, such as walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming, are a great way to start. As you feel stronger, add distance, reps and time. Set goals and invite a friend to help you stay motivated. Keep track of your weight loss and other accomplishments. Finally, enjoy the fruits of your hard work by rewarding yourself for hitting milestones.

Simple Exercise Ideas

There’s a wide variety of exercises that you can do around the house without any special equipment. For weights, you can use dumbbells, water bottles or other items that weigh a few pounds. Try these basic exercises, starting out with 8 – 10 reps.

  • Forearm Curls – Hold out your arms at a 90-degree angle with the weights palm upward in your hands. Curl the hands toward your body as far as you can, hold for five seconds and let them curl back down.
  • Bicep Curls – Let your arms hang at your side with the weights palm-side up. Raise your arms at the elbow until the weights touch your shoulder, hold for five seconds and slowly put your arms back down.
  • Shoulder Press – Start with the bicep curl described above. When the weight is at your shoulders, turn the palms away from your body and slowly lift the weight straight up until your arm is almost straight but not locked. Slowly bring it back down so your elbow is resting.
  • Lunges – Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and hands on your hips. Take a big step forward with your right foot and lower your body straight down. Try to go low enough so that your left leg forms a right angle at the knee. Use your leg muscles to slowly raise yourself back up.

In addition to daily exercise, stretching before activities and trying deep-breathing techniques can help you stay healthier, feel better and give you more energy.


Stretching can make you more flexible and less prone to strains and sprains. Try stretching for at least 5 – 10 minutes before and after exercising to reduce your risk of injury.

  • Arms – Raise one hand behind your same-side ear and, using your other hand, slowly push your elbow back toward your ear until you feel a gentle tug.
  • Wrists – Place your hands palms together in front of you, as if praying, and rotate the tips of your fingers down toward your feet. Raise your shoulders as if shrugging and make small circles with them, clockwise then counterclockwise.
  • Back/Torso – Sit up tall and squeeze your stomach tight. Reach your arms out in front of you, palms outward, fingers linked and slowly raise your hands above your head. With your palms facing the ceiling, slowly push your hands up and back as far as you can. Hold for five seconds and bring your arms back down.
  • Legs – Facing a wall, put your palms flat against the wall and move one leg back. Try to keep the heel of your back foot flat on the ground and lean forward slowly. Feel the stretch in the back of your leg.

Take a Deep Breath

Pausing for a minute or two each day to take a few deep breaths not only helps you relax, it also can help keep you healthier.

A simple way to breathe deeper is to practice “belly breathing.” Sit or lie down comfortably with your hands on your stomach. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose or slightly opened lips, feeling your stomach rise. Exhale slowly and fully through your mouth, feeling your stomach return to its starting position. Repeat five times.

Swimming Tips

  • Water will not hurt your stoma, and you can swim with your pouch or a stoma cap
  • Plan to swim when your stoma is least active
  • Do not go in the water immediately after putting on a new skin barrier. Give it at least an hour to form a more secure seal with your skin.
  • Men can wear a pair of bicycle shorts underneath their swimming trunks to hold the pouch in place
  • Women can wear the top part of an old pair of panty hose under their suit to secure the pouch
  • If you plan to wear an ostomy belt while swimming, opt for a rubber belt instead of a cloth one, which can stretch in water