Exercise is often touted as helping with many ailments, like high blood pressure, diabetes and more.
But what about pelvic health? What benefits can working out offer to women who have been diagnosed with a pelvic floor issue? Pelvic floor exercises are used for some conditions, but can pelvic floor exercises help an overactive bladder?
What is Overactive Bladder?
The medical definition of overactive bladder is:
“Urinary urgency with or without urgency urinary incontinence, often accompanied by frequency and nocturia (defined as the need for patients to get up at night on a regular basis to urinate), in the absence of urinary tract infection or other obvious pathology.”1
More simply put, overactive bladder is a common condition marked by frequent and sudden urges to urinate, which are often difficult to control. That’s the most common sign, with other problems being the need to urinate frequently, needing to urinate often at night (nocturia), and sometimes having urge incontinence, which is the unintentional leakage of urine.
It’s not to be taken lightly, either, as it can impact your daily life, recreational activities, work productivity, sexuality, and lead to isolation and possibly depression.1
While lifestyle changes such as management of fluid intake and timed bathroom breaks can help, so can exercise. For one, moderate physical activity can help with weight loss, which is recommended for overactive bladder. Regular physical activity can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can decrease symptoms, but strenuous exercise may make them worse. So pelvic floor exercises are a good place to start.1
Pelvic Floor Exercises That Can Help An Overactive Bladder
There are exercises that can be done to help an overactive bladder. Kegel exercises, for instance, are pelvic muscle strengthening exercises. These will help make the hammock-like structure known as the pelvic floor stronger—those muscles that support your bladder, uterus, and bowels.2
A Kegel exercise is like pretending you have to urinate and then holding it. This tightens the pelvic floor muscles while keeping your abdomen, thighs and buttocks relaxed. Perform them up to three times a day, doing 10 reps at a time, and holding the muscles for five seconds each time.3
Here are a few other exercises that can help control an overactive bladder:
- Lunges: a common exercise where you place one foot in front of the other and dip down, then change legs. These help strengthen abdominal muscles and thighs, helping pelvic core muscles and the bladder.4
- Pelvic activators: with a resistance band around the upper thighs and your feet together, move knees apart then slowly move them back together.4
- Pelvic floor ball squeezes: sitting in a chair with an exercise ball between your thighs, squeeze the ball 10-15 times, holding the squeeze for 10 seconds.4
- Yoga: which can help core muscles and others that support your pelvis, as well as provide other health benefits.
Ask a Doctor
If you’re suffering from overactive bladder, use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you who specializes in women’s health. Once you obtain a proper diagnosis, a doctor can help with a treatment plan, including exercises to help with overactive bladder.