Playing sports and staying active with a colostomy
Everyone needs daily exercise to keep good health and body function. An ostomy should not keep you from exercising and playing sports, although athletes sometimes wear longer shirts or shorts with higher waistbands, depending on the location of the stoma. In fact, people with colostomies are distance runners, weight lifters, skiers, swimmers, and take part in most other types of athletics.
There are a few safety measures you should think about. For instance, many doctors recommend avoiding contact sports because of possible injury to the stoma from a severe blow or because the pouching system slips. But special protection can help prevent these problems. Weight lifting could cause a hernia at the stoma. Check with your doctor about such sports.
You can swim with your pouching system in place. For sanitary reasons, you should use a stick-on pouch when you go swimming in fresh water or in the ocean. Remember these points:
- If you use a support ostomy belt, you can leave it on if you want to.
- You may want to protect the barrier by taping the edges with waterproof tape.
- Before swimming, empty your pouch and remember to eat lightly.
Choosing a swim suit
You may want to choose a swim suit with a lining for a smoother profile. Dark colors or busy patterns can also help hide the pouching system.
- Consider a suit with a well-placed skirt or ruffle.
- You may also wear stretch panties made especially for swim suits.
- Try a suit with a higher waist band or longer leg.
- You may also wear bike shorts or a support garment sold in men’s underwear departments or athletic wear departments under their bathing suits.
- Some men may prefer to wear a tank top and trunks, if the stoma is above the belt line.
In its original form this document was written by the United Ostomy Association, Inc. (1962-2005) and reviewed by Jan Clark, RNET, CWOCN and Peg Grover, RNET. It has since been modified and updated by:
Last Medical Review: December 2, 2014 Last Revised: December 2, 2014
- What is a colostomy?
- How your digestive system works
- Types of colostomies
- Closing or reversing a colostomy
- Managing your colostomy
- Choosing a colostomy pouching system
- Changing the colostomy pouching system
- Colostomy irrigation (for descending and sigmoid colostomies only)
- Ordering and storing colostomy supplies
- Caring for a colostomy
- Avoiding and managing colostomy problems
- If you are hospitalized while you have a colostomy
- Living with a colostomy
- Telling others about your colostomy
- Eating and digestion with a colostomy
- What to wear when you have a colostomy
- Returning to work after getting a colostomy
- Intimacy and sexuality when you have a colostomy
- Playing sports and staying active with a colostomy
- Traveling when you have a colostomy
- For parents of children with colostomies
- Getting colostomy help, information, and support
- To learn more