Staying Active With A Stoma

Were you an active person before your stoma operation and want to stay that way? No problem.


You should try and take some gentle exercise as soon as possible after you leave hospital. Go out for short walks every day and increase the distance gradually. Get someone to accompany you if you can, especially if you feel a bit wobbly. It's best to wait until after your first outpatient appointment (usually about 6 weeks after discharge) before starting formal exercise again. But remember it normally takes about 3 months for your abdominal muscles to heal completely. Check with your Stoma Care Nurse or GP if you are unsure.

In the long-run, there is no reason why you can’t continue keeping fit by swimming, dancing, gardening or whatever activity you enjoy doing most. The only sports that you might want to avoid are those that involve rough physical contact, such as rugby and some martial arts. It’s very easy to disguise your bag whilst exercising by wearing a baggy t-shirt. If you are swimming, you can use a stoma cap or a mini-pouch - you can order samples here. Products such as flange extenders or waterproof tape hold the flange in place, providing extra security. Remember to use a filter cover when swimming, if your pouch contains a filter.


Initially, discomfort whilst your stoma heals is likely to prevent you from attempting too much, particularly bending and stretching such as reaching for high shelves and pushing or pulling whilst vacuuming. Standing for long periods may also prove tiring for a while. Avoid carrying shopping or lifting anything heavy for at least 3 months after your surgery.


You can usually start driving again 6-8 weeks after surgery, but this will vary according to the type of operation you have had. Remember that your movement and strength must be up to coping with an emergency stop, if required, as well as normal driving. It's also a good idea to check with your insurance company that you are covered if you return to driving.

Returning to work

How long you should wait until you go back to work will depend on the type of surgery you have had and the sort of work you do. It is better to feel completely well before you return as many people feel tired and find concentration difficult to start with. More specific advice can be given by hospital staff or your GP.

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