An active bladder can interfere with almost every area of life. Frequent trips to the bathroom can make it challenging to enjoy outings and can mean that you miss important events at work and with your family. And exercise can become a source of anxiety for people with an active bladder, who may find that the constant movement increases their risk of an accident. Some women find that they develop an active bladder either during or after pregnancy. Pelvic floor exercises can help you improve your symptoms, and exercises that you can do at home can help decrease the likelihood of having an accident while you work out.
Active Bladder Basics
Although many people struggle with an active bladder, you shouldn't assume that an active bladder is a natural part of the aging process or always happens after pregnancy. A number of conditions can contribute to an active bladder, including kidney and neurological disorders. Medication and diet can also play a role, so before you begin trying to treat your active bladder with exercise, talk to your doctor to find out why your bladder is overactive.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises strengthen your urethra and the muscles around your bladder, and regularly doing these exercises -- which are sometimes called kegels -- can decrease your risk of accidents and may even ease the symptoms of an active bladder. Pelvic floor exercises are safe to do at any time, even during pregnancy. Before you start your kegels, learn how to locate and tense your pelvic floor muscles by urinating and stopping the flow. This same motion is the motion you should use to do kegel exercises. Start by doing two to three sets of four or five kegels a day. Gradually progress to tensing your muscles for 10 seconds or longer for each rep. Tensing your muscles for longer periods of time strengthens them even more.
How Kegels Work
Kegels are effective because they use the same muscles you use to empty your bladder, strengthening these muscles over time. This makes it less likely that you'll accidentally leak urine when you sneeze or laugh, because you'll have stronger and better-controlled pelvic floor muscles. However, the Mayo Clinic points out that kegels tend to be less effective for people who leak more than a few drops of urine or who tend to become incontinent when their bladders are full. Kegels can also improve the ability of women to orgasm.
Other Bladder Treatments
If kegel exercises aren't working, you might need to try some other treatments for an active bladder. Your doctor may perform tests to understand the cause of your symptoms. Bladder training, including scheduled trips to the bathroom, can also help. If you are overweight, losing weight may help tame your active bladder. For some people, intermittent catheterization can help fully empty the bladder, reducing the risk of an accident. Your doctor might also prescribe medications to reduce the risk of leakage or to improve bladder function.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.