Staying Fit with an Ostomy: Core Exercise Tips?

forever mountains

Do any of you do core exercises? I was told not to for the first few months after surgery.

Just started pushups again and oh my, there is some serious atrophy going on.

What are you doing to stay fit with a hole cut through your abdominal wall?


Although I received a hernia on my left side from lifting 35 lb water jugs, I do sit-ups to strengthen my core, but didn't start that until 6 months post-op. I do bike and take 2-5 mile brisk walks each day. Unfortunately, once summer hits here, then it's only swimming. Last year I was afraid to swim as I didn't know any better. Then folks on here said we can and that's great core strengthening. I hope after the huge incision that I can regain a lady six-pack, but I no longer wear bikinis, so I just try to suck it up. Good luck and be careful.

Gray Logo for MeetAnOstoMate
Top 5 Collections

Hey Forever,

The sensible thing to do is nothing for a few months post-surgery. After that, opinions differ. Seems the biggest concern is a hernia, but I'm not sure there's data that suggests a correlation between exercising with an ostomy and an increased occurrence of hernias or not. Some folks are just more susceptible to them than others without considering exercise. And obviously, it depends on the skill of the surgeon when he placed your stoma.

I haven't had any hernia-type issues with mine while doing sit-ups, but my barrier isn't a big fan of me flexing longitudinally across it without it reminding me by leaking. So my plan is to move from sit-ups and such to Pilates for my abs. If interested, you might try talking to "Pilatesgirl" on here, as she's an instructor. She pops in on occasion, so you'd probably do best to PM her if interested.

One other thing... from what I've read on here, it seems a hernia in the stoma region is not a trivial thing or something to be taken lightly. You either learn to live with it or have it surgically corrected, with no guarantees. So best to avoid the whole mess if possible. Just my 2 cents.



Past Member

I do 30 minutes a day on my elliptical trainer. It's an all-over body workout, including core muscles. I used to compete in competitions in my younger days on them with a stoma, and it took a lot to keep up with me back then, lol. I use a stepper for 20 minutes, 3 times a week. It works your core muscles too. I do plank twice a day for 2 minutes each time. If you look online, you will find safe sit-ups to do with an ostomy. Keep your knees bent and don't lift your back all the way up. It's easier to watch it being done than explain. I used to do standard sit-ups, but I have been told many times by doctors and nurses that you shouldn't do them with an ostomy.

There's not really anything that you can't do exercise-wise with a stoma, even bodybuilding. Just take it easy at first.

forever mountains

Thanks, Ritz, Bob, Panther!

Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister

I love Tai Chi for post-surgery, starting 8-12 weeks after. Once I'm in the gym, I do a lot of stabilizer-type core work, like standing on one leg while lifting weights or using cable weight machines. For me, paying attention to all the smaller muscles is most important. The bigger muscles will follow along naturally. One-legged squats are hell but good. Pilates if you're careful. I pay careful attention to strengthen back muscles so they can compensate for the hole in the front. Lots of torso rotations with weights/cables, both seated and standing. Lots of walking on a treadmill without holding onto anything. Planks are great, and assisted chin-ups. I stress endurance and flexibility over powerlifting. I at least do 3 sets of 15 on everything (total 45). The first set is work but more like a good stretch. The second set is hard, tough the last couple. The third set is stop-talking-just-concentrate hard. If I'm standing on one leg, it's 3 sets of 10 each leg (total 60).

forever mountains



Clearly, it is a good idea to ease into it. I have had my ileostomy for over 35 years and have had no issues with core exercise. I have participated in a martial arts tournament a few months after surgery, lifted weights regularly, kayaked whitewater around the country, rock climbed for years, mountain bike regularly, and I just took up surfing a couple of years ago. I know everyone's body reacts differently and that I have been lucky to be able to do these activities. I do sit-ups, push-ups, etc., and I have not had any problems with any level of physical activity over the years. Good luck to you and listen to your body!

Newbie Dana

Use a hernia belt! Much better to avoid one than deal with it after the fact! I was stupid, and once the doctor said, "Do whatever you feel you can do" - I did. I guess he wasn't used to a 55+ year old woman who did pushups, etc., because I now have a honkin' big hernia and have been absolutely forbidden to do any of those exercises for fear of making it significantly worse. At this point, there's not much he WILL let me do. Don't go that route, be smarter than me.


I echo Newbie Dana! Wear a hernia belt!

I use a fitted Nu Hope hernia belt when I am awake, often when I sleep. At one point, I wore it 24/7 for about 2 years except showers. Like Dana, I've paid the price for doctors that grossly underestimate our activity levels and after having TEO hernias at my stoma, I'll never go without the belt again. BTW, the first hernia was repaired, the second no one will touch so I get to live with it.

I do simple sit-ups at home. In the gym, I'll do various leg presses and upper body exercises. Building core strength and keeping it have been very difficult.

Good luck, be careful but not too careful! :)

All times are GMT - 5 Hours