Advice for Working Out with an Ileostomy - Seeking Guidance and Tips

Past Member
Apr 26, 2020 5:29 pm

Hi everybody.

So I have this issue. I am 'expanding'.

I have never been the most active person, I have an active job but never liked working out much. Now 1.5 years ago, I got a temporary ileostomy due to Crohn's. I noticed that bending over a lot caused the ileostomy area to swell (one-sided potbelly swelling). Most likely because the muscles get tired (I am also hypermobile, so I have poor core stability), the ostomy swelled up and started to bleed because of irritation.

Sadly enough, they had to make the ileostomy permanent 7 months ago. And since my current job is giving me issues, I will get a desk job in the future.

So the last 1.5 years, I haven't been very active. I still weigh the same, but I experience muscle loss. So I am expanding. That's not very good.

So over the next few months, I want to start walking on a regular basis to build some stamina. In the fall, I would like to subscribe to a gym. Now I hear you think, get a personal trainer.

Tried that before I had an ostomy and the guidance was s***.

So cardio: bike, treadmill, elliptical seem pretty safe. What about those rowing machines? Are they safe or give too much pressure to the abdominal area?

Weights: what is safe to do? I wouldn't mind focusing on arms and legs first. But if I do, I prefer to see some results, so what is safe in that area without too much abdominal pressure.

For example, is a leg press safe?

I do know that I have to start slow and with low weights, but I have no experience now that I have my 'Loki'.

Is there anyone who can offer me some advice or share some experiences?

Apr 26, 2020 6:16 pm

Sorry. I disagree. You are a very pretty lady. One thing you may want to try, and you can search it on Amazon to see what they look like, is a Nu-Hope ostomy support belt. I am a plumber and lift and bend and flop around on the floor under sinks. These belts keep my core secure and help with the one-sided potbelly.

Good luck. I will be praying for you.


Gray Logo for MeetAnOstoMate

Why Join MeetAnOstoMate?

First off, this is a pretty cool site with 33,992 members. Get inside and you will see.

It's not all about ostomy. Everything is being discussed.

Many come here for advice or to give advice 🗣, others have found good friends 🤗, and there are also those who have found love 💓. Most of all, people are honest and truly care.

Privacy is very important - the website has many features that are only visible to members.

Create an account and you will be amazed.

Apr 26, 2020 6:35 pm

Hi Snow,

You're covering a lot of ground in your post... I'll hit what I can. I'm not familiar with the swelling you're experiencing, but you don't normally swell because muscles get tired. Your abs, even if you don't specifically work them out, are in use pretty much all the time you are awake. So I'm not sure why you swell... or if I'm even understanding you right. Sorry.

Making your ileo permanent sucks. I was told I could be reversed, but there's a high probability of my Crohn's reoccurring at the reconnection point, and being short-gutted with only a third of my colon that could be put back into service... it's not worth the risk and really wouldn't buy me much. So I'm getting used to this thing being with me until I ride off into the sunset someday. It could always be worse... so no sense dwelling on it.

Walking is good. You have to walk a LOT to lose any weight, but it's better than plopping on the couch and watching Netflix. It's easier to make dietary changes to control weight... but that requires some serious willpower and most folks just don't have what it takes. It all comes down to how committed you are to wanting to change. The rowing machine can be problematic depending on where your stoma is placed. If your barrier can take the constant flexing and not leak, you should be okay from a hardware standpoint, but every time you "crunch up" your core, you run the risk of having a hernia form. Your abdomen is essentially a bag full of your guts, and everything is packed in there pretty tightly. Your bag of guts has a small slit cut in it with your stoma sticking out... but if you put more pressure on the bag... stuff is going to want to come out in the area of least resistance. And that area is where your surgeon cut a hole in your thick, tough abdominal wall to stick your stoma through. So I'd leave the rowing to the crew teams and stay away from anything that works your abs specifically. At least for now. The seated leg press is similar to the rowing machine, but you don't crunch up as much. If you don't bring your legs all the way to your chest... it's better than the rowing machine. But biking will work your legs better than any leg press machine... so why not get a bike and go ride... the weather is nice and only getting nicer. The machines at the gym are designed to isolate specific muscles or groups. That's great for serious fitness nuts or bodybuilders, but for someone like you... you'd be better off doing things that work lots of muscles at the same time. Swimming is an excellent way to do that. Just a thought.

The whole point of using weights is three-fold. You can either use them to increase calories burned (think cardio with free weights) to build muscle (low reps and lots of weight to force the muscles to grow) or to tone your existing muscles (high reps with low weight to both burn calories and fatigue the muscles). If you're above your desired weight, you should be using any weights to burn more calories, not to tone or build mass. As you lose the weight, you'll tone up automatically. You can then use the weights in a manner to facilitate muscle toning. What I'm saying is if you're thinking that adding weights to your workout right from the start will tone you up... you'll be disappointed until you drop some weight first, as you won't see the results you'll be looking for.

Bottom line is don't overthink any of this. Losing weight is easy... just burn more calories than you consume. Your body will do the rest. If you want to speed up the process, then walk, jog, bike, swim, or do anything that requires you to do work (i.e., burn calories). Keep it simple and you and Loki will be ready to hit the beach in no time! Now Git R Done girl!



Past Member
Apr 26, 2020 7:13 pm

Hi Bob

My weight has remained the same. I just noticed that some part of my body (like my belly and upper legs) don't have as much muscle as I used to. I am more squishy (not sure if that is a real word. English isn't my first language) so I think I want to build more mass, but losing weight alongside that would be great.

My eating schedule is fine. I go to a nutritionist several times a year. It motivates me to not fall back into wrong habits. I tend to have a sweet tooth.

About the swelling. As my doctors explained to me, assuming they tell the truth. Because of my hypermobility, my muscles are too flexible. Which means they have to work harder to keep my organs and joints in the right position. That will cause them to get tired more quickly. It isn't something that can be cured with exercise, medicine, or surgical intervention since it is a collagen issue.

And cutting through an important abdominal muscle to place an ileostomy isn't really the best idea. But obviously, I had no other choice. My colon wasn't what you would call a team player so I had to expel him from the team.

Past Member
Apr 26, 2020 7:54 pm

There's nothing you can't do with a stoma!

I used to be addicted to the gym for many years.

Abdominal exercises are good for us. They are the best prevention we can take to try avoiding getting a hernia. Even if you have a hernia, the new thinking is sit-ups may prevent them from getting any bigger.

I used to take part in rowing competitions, so the answer is yes, it's very safe.

I never lifted free weights but worked my way up to lifting the whole stack on the machines with arms and legs.

How to Manage Emotions with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Apr 26, 2020 9:05 pm

Snowfox - Try Leslie Sansone's walking DVDs. They're very doable, and you may be surprised at the results when done consistently. Of course, you need to watch what you eat as well.

ron in mich
Apr 27, 2020 1:35 pm

Hi Snow, I'm with Bob on the walking, especially if you have any hills to go up and down. What I did many years ago when I got my first ileo was I filled 2 milk jugs with water and put them in a backpack and walked. The extra weight gave me a workout and helped me get an appetite back as I lost a lot of weight due to being sick from Crohn's. Good luck.

Newbie Dana
May 02, 2020 5:12 pm

Once I got my stoma, I was told I could do anything I did before, just start slow. Well, frankly, I can do anything I did before, but I sure wish I didn't do everything I did before, because I ended up with a stinkin' big hernia. I look 5 months pregnant - on one side! Now I know that I should have been wearing a hernia belt every time I did activities that emphasized my core, but it's too late now. Basically, my doctor told me not to do core muscle exercises because it would make things worse, and it's too late for the belt to do much if any good. So I do lots of bike riding and a totally modified 7-exercise routine - wall presses instead of push-ups, that sort of thing. The aerobics help with legs and stamina and breathing, and the modified 7 for the arms. My middle, I just have to let hang out. Such is life, at least I am alive.