The first thing you should know when you’re thinking of getting active with a stoma is that there is no set level activity for everyone. It’s about finding the right thing for you and not pushing yourself too far.
When you feel ready after stoma surgery you should be able to return to work, as well as any sports and activities you enjoyed before your surgery. If you’re unsure of what you can do, then you should seek advice from your stoma nurse. If you are considering taking part in contact sports such as boxing, rugby or judo, it’s important to make sure your stoma is protected.
Getting active has so many benefits, not only for your physical health but also for mental health and wellbeing, which is so important to focus on no matter your stage of recovery. One thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter if you weren’t very active before surgery.
Nobody is expecting you to become an athlete overnight. Do what feels right for you.
There’s so many things you can do now to start to lead a more active life. People often worry that physical activity could harm them, when in fact there are so many benefits to being active. To address this, we developed the me+™ Recovery Programme which is based on gentle movements including core exercises, guiding users through their recovery after stoma surgery and beyond.
Below is a list of the many activities you can do with a stoma:
You can do the housework with a stoma. You should speak to your stoma nurse or GP when thinking about resuming housework as it’s important to ease back into any activity after major surgery.
Walking is a fantastic, low impact exercise which can be started soon after surgery. Make sure you build it up gradually. You could start by going out for a short walk every day and try to increase the distance a bit more each time if you can. However, remember, as far as you walk you might have to walk back again, so start off slowly. If you don’t feel ready to go outside yet, or if the weather’s putting you off, you could even walk around the house.
me+™ community member Jo Hunt was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was just 4 years old. She lived with the illness for 16 years before having a total colectomy with an ileo-rectal anastomosis and then went on to have a permanent ileostomy at the age of 26.
Jo found her happiness after her surgery in walking. Just a year later, Jo walked a half marathon, went hiking with friends and her dog and has got so much more planned.
Ride a bike
Cycling is another great, low impact exercise that doesn’t put too much strain on your stoma.
Before you get on your bike, make sure you check your suitability with your stoma care nurse or healthcare professional as it’s important to ensure that you have fully recovered from your surgery. This is even more important if you have a perineal wound as the saddle of the bike may cause discomfort to the area at first. You could visit your local cycle shop as they should be able to advise on suitable types of saddles available to make cycling more comfortable.
If you do want to start cycling, then joining a club could be great way to get started. You can find advice and search for cycling clubs near you on the Cycling UK website at www.cyclinguk.org.
With the right pouch and a bit of planning, there shouldn’t be any reason why you can’t go swimming with a stoma.
Swimming is great exercise as it works your whole body without putting too much strain or pressure on your stoma. Most stoma pouching systems are water resistant, even for swimming. First, ensure that your pouching system is securely in place. Then, cover the vent on your deodorizing filter with a filter cover to prevent water from entering the pouch.
If you have a colostomy, you may find it useful to wear a stoma cap if it makes you feel more comfortable going swimming. However, this may not be an effective solution if you have an ileostomy or urostomy due to the output being more frequent.
Our me+™ Member Sarah has a handy tip for those who want to swim with a stoma. Sarah says: "I tell people who are scared to swim with an stoma to spend a few hours in the tub on a lazy day. If your pouching system holds up to that, then the pool should be a breeze."
Were you a key player in your football team before your surgery? Love nothing more than being part of a team? Want to try something new?
If you want to get back to the action of a contact sport or even if you want to get started for the first time, try not to let your anxieties hold you back. It may require a little extra planning than it used to, but you can still partake in the activities you want to.
You might be worried that you’ll cause damage to your stoma if you play contact sports, but taking the right precautions and protecting your stoma can help to avoid this. If you feel comfortable in doing so, you could also let other members of your team know that you have a stoma.
You can do it
You can get back to your favourite activities. Whether it’s a game of tennis or a round of golf, there’s so many things you can do. Be sure to listen to your body and build up your strength and fitness before doing too much.
Within the me+™ community there are ostomates who are runners, swimmers, skiers, basketball players just to name a few. You shouldn’t let your stoma hold you back. These are few of the many activities you can do with a stoma. If it’s simply the ‘not knowing’ which worries you, with the right advice – at the right time, you should be able to return to your normal levels of activity and for some people for whom a stoma has improved their quality of life, you may now be able to do more than before.
Finding a stoma solution you can trust
When you’re active, having a stoma solution you can really trust is incredibly important. ConvaTec Mouldable Technology™ has been specially designed to gently adjust to your stoma, giving you a snug and secure fit without the need for scissors.
Whether you’re running a marathon, playing golf or simply tidying the garden, you can have complete peace of mind that your stoma solution won’t let you down.