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Keep Moving: Managing Activity with a Stoma



Stomach upset

A stoma should never prevent you from getting up, getting out, and carrying through with your regular activities within the recommended time frame. You can do just about the same level of activities you were used to doing before your surgery.

Exceptions will certainly include rough sports such as martial arts and hard running, but at a reduced pace, you can still keep active. As is the case with all medical conditions you should check with your doctor before engaging in any physical activity. Your condition will warrant that you start slowly and gradually increase the level of your activities. Here are some tips on managing your daily activity while going through the healing process.

When Should You Start Exercising

The safe period for starting your formal exercises is usually within six weeks of your discharge. It is best to wait until after your first outpatient appointment. The abdominal muscles usually take three months before they heal completely so avoid rigorous exercises and check with your GP or stoma nurse if you have doubts.

Exercising will prevent you from gaining postoperative weight as obesity is not ideal for ostomates. In the same breath, doing too much or doing the wrong exercises can cause you to develop a postoperative hernia. The exercises you do should address issues such as endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Your doctor may choose to outline the exercises he/she would prefer you use in your routine. Walking is an excellent exercise that promotes endurance. You can start with slow short walks then gradually build up to longer and more brisk walks.

Doing Housework and More

The soreness of the stoma will act as a natural deterrent so that you will not overdo it. Use it as a warning sign that you may be pushing yourself too much. That said, you can carry out certain household chores, but these must be light work. No lifting of heavy objects or taking on strenuous tasks.

The fact that you are able to move about and get some chores done is a good sign. You should only do enough to keep you active. Staying inactive can be just as bad as overdoing it. Your body needs the extra activity to help in the recovery process. Family members need to be aware of this and allow you to assist with certain chores around the home.

Avoid Lifting Anything Heavy

Whatever you lift prior to three months post-surgery should not be heavier than a kettle of water. Avoid carrying shopping bags or even lifting a baby that is heavier than the recommended weight. Lifting heavy weights will increase your risk of developing a hernia. Remember your abdominal area needs time to heal properly without being aggravated. If the work you do requires that you lift weights, your stoma nurse or doctor may advise that you wear a special support belt, but you really should not lift any heavy weights for at least one-year post-surgery. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience pain or encounter any other form of problem.

Keeping active is an important part of your healing process. This may not be hard for patients who led a relatively active life before surgery, but all stoma patients should become active and help their body to heal.