Dear Health-conscious Friend,
Cut Back This “Healthy” Habit to Avoid Bladder Leaks
You may be tired of hearing how being overweight and out of shape can lead to all sorts of health problems. So here’s a message you probably don’t hear often enough:
A lot of American women are overdoing it. And the result for many of them is urinary incontinence. Over-exercising – especially if it’s high-impact exercise – can leave you with poor bladder control.
A team from Loyola University Health System recently studied this problem. They presented their findings at a large meeting in Washington, D.C. One out of 3 women in their study suffered with pelvic floor problems. For almost 40% of them, the problem was urinary incontinence.
The group they were studying? Female triathletes.1
Of course, triathlon training isn’t the only exercise that can lead to incontinence. An earlier Loyola study found marathon training can have the same effect. And that it’s a problem for both women and men.
Just to add embarrassment to the mix, the Loyola team found some marathoners may have “leakage” problems during a race.
Exercise-related incontinence is more common than you might think. Studies have found up to 80% of elite athletes suffer with incontinence. The problem varies by sport. Track and field athletes and gymnastics have high rates of incontinence. Among elite golfers, the problem is rare.3
It may sound like I’m arguing against exercise here… but I’m not. I’m warning against overdoing it. In some ways, overdoing high-impact exercise is as bad as getting too little exercise. Especially if your diet isn’t great.
You don’t need a lot of intense exercise, anyway. Just a few minutes at high intensity a few times a week will do wonders for your heart and lungs. And news from Harvard Medical School can help you stay healthy with less risk of leaks.
Just a few years ago, Harvard doctors noticed most research on exercise and incontinence focused on intense activity. They wondered if there was also a link to moderate exercise?
They combed through the results of a large health study. And they discovered there was a link among the study’s subjects.
The more moderate exercise women got, the lower their chances of bladder leaks. The women with the most moderate activity cut their risk by 11%.4
Now, 11% may not sound like much, but here’s the key… We already know intense, high-impact activity increases your risk. So swapping some high-risk activity for moderate activity should have an even greater impact.
Other ways to cut your risk – or gain greater control of an existing problem include…
- Practicing pelvic floor exercises – called “Kegels.” These simply involve repeatedly tightening the muscles you use to hold back urine for a few seconds 2 or 3 times a day
- “Training” your bladder. Using a schedule and urge-suppression techniques, you can often reduce incontinence.
- Nutritional supplements. Taking a bladder formula containing herbs to help tone and relax muscles often involved in incontinence issues.
Yours in continued good health,
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
1 “Female triathletes at risk for pelvic-floor disorders, other complications,” Loyola Medicine. Jul 24, 2014.
2 “Marathon Runners May Be at Risk for Incontinence,” Luyola University Health System. Oct 4, 2012.
3 Bø, K., “Urinary incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction, exercise and sport,” Sports Med. 2004; 34(7): 451-464.
4 Townsend, M.K., et al, “Physical activity and incident urinary incontinence in middle-aged women,” J Urol. Mar 2008; 179(3): 1012-1016.