Everyone needs daily exercise to stay healthy and for the body to function well. An ostomy should not keep you from exercising and playing sports. In fact, people with ostomies are distance runners, weight lifters, skiers, swimmers, and take part in most sports. But it's important to know what activities may not be safe for your type of ostomy. There are safety measures you may need to think about. For instance, many doctors recommend avoiding contact sports because of possible injury to the stoma from a severe blow. But special protection may be able to help prevent these problems. Talk to your health care team about any limitations you may have.
If you have a tracheostomy, you may have more limitations than people with other types of ostomies. This is because a tracheostomy stoma is your airway. You will need to be careful when doing activities that involve water. You will also need to guard your stoma from other things that are harmful, such as certain particles, objects, or substances in the air.
Most of the hints and tips below are for people who have an ostomy in their abdomen (belly), such as a colostomy, ileostomy, or urostomy. People with these types of ostomies sometimes wear longer shirts or exercise pants and shorts with higher waistbands, depending on the location of the stoma.
People with a tracheostomy should ask their health care team about precautions related to swimming and water sports. People with abdominal ostomies can swim with a pouching system in place. For sanitary reasons, use a stick-on pouch when you go swimming in fresh water or in the ocean. Remember these points:
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.
All methods of travel are open to people who have ostomies. Many people with ostomies travel just like everyone else; this includes camping trips, cruises, and air travel. Here are some travel tips:
Traveling by car:
Traveling by plane:
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
In its original form this document was written by the United Ostomy Association of America (1962-2019). It has since been modified and updated by the American Cancer Society using the following sources.
American Thoracic Society. Living with a tracheostomy. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2016;194:5-6. Accessed at https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/tracheostomy-in-adults-2.pdf on October 2, 2019.
Hollister. Living with an ostomy: Home and work life. Accessed at https://www.hollister.com/~/media/files/pdfs–for–download/ostomy–care/living–with–an–ostomy_home–and–work–life_923126-0417.pdf on October 2, 2019.
Hollister. Living with an ostomy: Sports and fitness. Accessed at https://www.hollister.com/~/media/files/pdfs–for–download/ostomy–care/living–with–an–ostomy_sports–and–fitness_923127-0417.pdf on October 2, 2019.
Hollister. Living with an ostomy: Travel. Accessed at https://www.hollister.com/~/media/files/pdfs–for–download/ostomy–care/living–with–an–ostomy_travel_923123-0417.pdf on October 2, 2019.
United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA). Living with an ostomy. Accessed at https://www.ostomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Living-With-An-Ostomy-Brochure.pdf on October 2, 2019.
United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA). Living with an ostomy: FAQs. Accessed at https://www.ostomy.org/living-with-an-ostomy/ on October 2, 2019.
United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA). New ostomy patient guide: Colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy, continent diversion. Accessed at https://www.ostomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/All-In-One-New-Patient-Guide_2018.pdf on October 2, 2019.
Last Revised: October 2, 2019