Ladies, if you tinkle while on the treadmill, you are not alone. According to the American Urogynecologic Society, urinary incontinence affects 30 to 50 percent of women. Experiencing moments of incontinence while exercising is quite common — and treatable. From medications to lifestyle changes, you can manage your bladder issues without having to give up the physical activities you enjoy the most.
Fix Your Flow
Stress incontinence, caused by physical activity, is the most common form of incontinence in women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Just because it's common doesn't mean it's a normal part of aging, so don't be shy about talking to your doctor. A bladder stress test and other diagnostic tools can determine the cause of your incontinence.
A leaky bladder can often be corrected with a few lifestyle changes. Consume fewer bladder irritants, such as caffeinated beverages, citrus fruits and alcohol. Increase your fiber intake if you have chronic constipation. Losing weight can place less pressure on your pelvis. If behavioral changes don’t do the trick, medications and treatments like biofeedback and nerve stimulation may be effective. Surgery is an option in the most extreme cases.
Pelvic Power Boost
It’s time to Kegel. Incontinence issues are often associated with weak pelvic floor muscles. Everything from childbirth to menopause and excess weight can weaken your pelvis, causing bladder control problems. When a weakened pelvic floor is stressed by abdominal pressure that occurs during exercise, urine can escape at inappropriate times, like at the gym.
Kegel exercises, which involve the voluntary contracting of pelvic muscles, can strengthen your pelvic area and can be done anywhere, anytime. Need more motivation? As a perk, Kegel exercises can also help you have better orgasms.
Focus on exercises that will place less strain on your pelvic area. Yoga is an ideal activity, due to its focus on body awareness and control. You may find switching to a low-impact exercise like swimming resolves your incontinence issues. Avoid exercises that cause excess strain, like lifting heavy weights, until your incontinence issues have been addressed.
There is no shame in wearing bladder protection accessories. The peace of mind they can offer you at the gym is priceless. Forget the adult diapers — less constricting options like liners and pads are available that will keep your body dry and your mind at ease. Excess moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria, so use antibacterial skin care products that offer a protective barrier. Incontinence can be managed effectively, so don't let it stop you from your fitness goals.
Joy Johnston has been an online journalist since 2005. She has served as senior producer for the health news website Sharecare and as a digital producer for the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," where she helped develop the health channel. Johnston has also covered ways to stay fit in Atlanta.