Include Kegel Exercises in Your 2012 Exercise Routine

Dianna Malkowski - PA-C, Nutritionist
by Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist
As the new year brings new fitness goals, we’re reminding those concerned with bladder control to include Kegel exercises. Weak pelvic muscles — which can be the result of childbirth, prostate surgery or aging — can be strengthened through daily practice of Kegels.

Weakened pelvic muscles can lead to incontinence, but pelvic muscles, like other muscles, can be strengthened through exercise. Incorporating daily Kegel exercises into a workout plan is a nonsurgical way to manage urinary incontinence. Developed by Arnold H. Kegel, M.D., F.A.C.S., as a way to help women regain bladder control after giving birth, Kegels have been used since to improve urethral and rectal sphincter control in people of all ages.

Kegel exercises not only help strengthen the muscles that determine bladder control, but they can done discreetly and a set takes fewer than five minutes. Stopping urine midstream on the toilet is a way to find the correct muscles to contract for Kegels, but Kegels should not be done while urinating. After emptying the bladder, Kegels can be practiced lying down, sitting or standing.

Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of 10 while continuing to breathe normally, then relax muscles for a count of 10. Repeat for a total of 10 exercises, and do three sets per day, in the morning, afternoon and evening. If you have experienced nerve damage, ask your health care practitioner to examine you during Kegels to check that you’re doing them correctly.

To see results, it’s important to do Kegels three times per day, every day, and it may take six weeks or longer to notice improvement in bladder control. In the meantime, incontinence can be managed with attention to diet, incontinence products and supplies, and proper skin care.

Read more about exercise and incontinence on The CareGiver Partnership blog.

Dianna Malkowski is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic trained nutritionist specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support. She serves on the board of professional advisors for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike. Ask Dianna a question.


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