9 Tips for Exercising with Incontinence

According to a survey of more than 300 women, 47% noted some degree of incontinence while exercising. In female athletes, especially runners, the physical activity seems to actually trigger incontinence.

Even for the recreational exerciser, embarrassing episodes in public situations can traumatize a woman struggling with stress incontinence. And your gym or fitness center is a very public place.

“It’s important to keep exercising for your overall health, even with incontinence,” says McLeod Gynecologist Chris McCauley, MD. “Certain types of exercises should be avoided, but you can take some simple steps to can continue a healthy lifestyle.”

Before you go to the gym:

  • DO NOT eat a big meal. This puts extra pressure on your pelvic muscles and bladder.

At the fitness center, before you exercise:

  • Empty your bladder before starting your workout.
  • Limit fluid intake but stay hydrated. It’s more difficult to control your bladder if you’re dehydrated.
  • Use a tampon, pads or adult diapers to absorb any leakage before it’s visible.

For your workout routine:

  • CHOOSE activities that will reduce pressure on your bladder, such as yoga and swimming.
  • CHOOSE lower impact exercises, such as walking or Pilates.
  • CHOOSE workout machines that don’t exert pressure on the pelvis, such as a treadmill or elliptical.
  • AVOID lifting heavy weights or performing body exercises, such as plunges, jumping jacks, and squats that bounce or push on the pelvis.
  • Try Kegels  at the fitness center, at home or even at work to strengthen your pelvic muscles and control stress incontinence.

Not exercising can lead to a weight gain. The extra weight places pressure on your abdomen and bladder and incontinence is heightened.


If you are experiencing stress incontinence or urge incontinence (overactive bladder), talk to your Gynecologist. There is a range of treatments to help you regain or maintain your quality of life – and your exercise routine.

Find a Gynecologist near you.

Sources include:  McLeod Health, British Journal of Sports Medicine, A Woman’s Guide to Pelvic Health, National Institutes of Health