New Year Fitness & Diet
Christmas and New Year are well out of the way and after all of that indulgent eating and drinking, you’ve decided to take the plunge and join the gym. All well and good until you realise that lycra, bladder weakness and the treadmill don’t make a good combination. As well as putting on a few extra pounds during December you may have also noticed that your bladder problems have also deteriorated. Our guide to improving your health and fitness discusses why your bladder weakness might have been made worse by an excess of ‘good living’ and what you can do about it.
Putting on a few extra pounds can make your bladder leakage worse. The good news is that you only need to lose around 5-10% of your body weight before you begin to notice an improvement in your bladder problems. Combining a sensible diet with a graded and steady approach to exercise is the best way to lose that Christmas weight whilst also regaining control over your bladder.
Being active has been shown to improve incontinence so avoiding exercise altogether isn’t going to help matters. Pilates or yoga can be a good alternative to a traditional gym routine. These classes often teach you how to tighten your pelvic floor muscles but don’t involve high impact or jumping work that will increase your chances of leaking. Even a brisk walk will help.
What you eat also has a part to play, both with regard to weight loss and bladder leakage. Evidence is growing to suggest that rich, fatty, spicy or very sugary foods can irritate the bladder and make you need to wee more often or leak. These are also the foods that are more likely to cause unwanted weight gain.
If you don’t eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables and fibre then you may become constipated. This is likely to make you feel bloated & lethargic but will also make any incontinence or over-active bladder problems much worse. It’s harder to do a pelvic floor exercise when your bowel is full too so even Kegel exercises may not prove as effective if you are constipated.
So switching to a sensible, healthy diet 80% of the time will make the pounds fall off and help your bladder to behave. Having the odd treat won’t impact on this so don’t feel guilty for enjoying the odd takeaway or night out.
Finally, the drink! Alcohol, as well as being high in calories and sugar, can also irritate the bladder and make you more prone to leaking. Fizzy drinks & caffeine are another big problem where bladder problems are concerned. These all irritate your bladder which will cause you to need to empty it more often and will make it harder for you to hold on. Caffeine also makes your bladder fill up more quickly which also sends you rushing for the loo. Trying to wean yourself off caffeine and fizzy drinks and cutting down on alcohol will all help. Keeping hydrated is essential though, particularly if you are exercising more. Try drinking small amounts of water regularly throughout the day.
On our website you will find lots of useful information about bladder problems and how you can treat them, all written by an experienced health professional in Women’s Health. Together we can help you to banish those bladder problems forever.
By Alison Bourne MA (Cantab) BSc MCSP ACPWH