Colostomy & Exercise

Objectives of this information section:

Understand benefits of exercise

Which exercises?

How to exercise safely



Why is exercise important?

  • Improves Circulation > Assists in the healing process
  • Controls weight > Better contact of stoma with skin
  • Improves strength
  • Reduce risk of developing back pain
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness > Reduce fatigue and breathlessness
  • Prevent/ reduce risk of parastomal hernia > can occur when abdominals are weak


Medical Research

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia


Exercise should be fun

  • You should be able to return to whatever exercise you enjoyed prior to your operation
  • Exceptions: boxing, judo, rugby, wrestling, weight lifting
  • Exercise will reduce stress
  • Involvement in sport can help acceptance of your stoma

Abdominal Exercises

  • Surgery weakens abdominals
  • Stoma is a weak spot in abdominals > Hernia formation
  • Advised post-operative exercises include Pilates, Tai-chi and Yoga

Pelvic Floor

  • Engage: Draw up your muscles around your bottom and vagina/between scrotum and anus
  • Hold up to 10 seconds
  • Repeat up to 10 times
  • Remember to breathe
  • Maintain good posture

Pelvic Tilts

  • Lie on back as in the picture on the downloadable factsheet- click link below
  • Engage pelvic floor
  • Slowly flatten back and peel lower spine off matt / bed
  • Hold up to 10 seconds
  • Lower slowly
  • Repeat up to 10 times

Knee Rolls

  • Lie on back as in the pelvic tilt picture on the downloadable factsheet
  • Engage pelvic floor
  • Slowly roll knees to the side and use your abdominals to return to the centre
  • Repeat 5-10 times each side


  • Kneel on all fours with back straight
  • Breathe in slowly
  • When breathe out, draw up the pelvic floor and lift your tummy up towards your spine
  • Breathe in and release
  • Hold 5-10 seconds
  • Repeat 5-10 times

Side Bending

  • Stand tall with arms by your side
  • When you breathe out, draw up your pelvic floor
  • Gently lean to one side, sliding hand down your leg
  • Return slowly to standing tall
  • Repeat to the other side
  • Repeat 5-10 times each side


  • Walking is good for cardiovascular fitness
  • Helps keep weight down
  • Helps to strengthen abdominals
  • Aim to build up to a 30 minute walk per day


  • Don’t go swimming too soon after a meal.
  • Smaller size pouches and stoma caps are available.
  • Cover the pouch filter with one of the sticky patches that come with your supplies to prevent the filter getting wet and possibly becoming blocked later on.
  • Women: swimwear in a patterned fabric or a design which is slightly gathered or ruched across the abdomen is effective in disguising any bulges.
  • Men: may prefer to wear swimshorts with a mesh lining which may help to support the pouch and have high waisted shorts

Active Sports

  • Wearing a support garment for strenuous activity or a stoma shield for contact sports
  • Wear a cotton stoma cover: absorbs sweat
  • High waisted shorts
  • Keep well hydrated to avoid dehydration
  • Colostomy output may increase and become thinner



  • Don’t do exercises that cause you a lot of pain
  • Better to exercise little and often in early days
  • Don’t exercise just after you eat
  • Don’t exercise if unwell
  • Good posture whilst lifting and slowly increase load
  • Don’t over-do it: at most exercise every 2 days
  • Gentle exercise is better than no exercise at all