Running and Other Exercise After Prostate Surgery

by Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist
Your physician's advice is your key to recovery.
Undergoing surgery to treat prostate cancer does not mean you have to give up an active lifestyle. If you exercised regularly before surgery, your better overall muscle tone may help with bladder control after surgery, as well as help you more easily regain strength and endurance in the months to follow. In 2009, four-time Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers ran a marathon in 4:06:49, one year after surgery for prostate cancer. The key is to follow your doctor’s advice and slowly rebuild your fitness level.

Post-surgery incontinence
Because prostate-cancer treatment can damage the urinary sphincter, incontinence can result, making it inconvenient or embarrassing to exercise. The good news is, this incontinence is usually temporary and a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise can help.

In a 2010 study published in The Journal of Urology, Washington University School of Medicine researchers looked at urinary incontinence rates among 165 men roughly one year after radical prostatectomy. Overall, obese, sedentary men had the highest rate of long-term incontinence at 41 percent, while active, non-obese men had the lowest rate at 16 percent.

In addition to better overall muscle tone that may help with bladder control, men who exercise may be more likely to follow their doctors’ advice on performing Kegel exercise to strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles. Those who exercised as little as 15 minutes per day had lower death rates than inactive men during the two-decade study period.

How long should you wait?
No matter how fit you were before prostate-removal surgery, you will lose some strength and must limit your activity for several weeks afterward. According to Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, plan on about six to eight weeks of following a sensible exercise program to help you regain strength.

Before beginning any exercise program, talk to your physician about adapting a regimen to your level of health and fitness. If you participated in vigorous activity, such as running, before surgery, you may be able to resume your fitness plan after giving your body plenty of time to heal.

                                Watch the video:  How to choose the right incontinence product

What to expect during recovery
Shortly after surgery, your medical care team will assist you in moving to help avoid complications like lung fluid and blood clots. Because you will tire easily, these exercise sessions will be short but frequent. You may be able to start walking by the second day, and possibly move around freely by day three, which is about the time you’ll be ready to leave the hospital.

During the first week, it’s important to take pain medication as directed and not exert yourself. The rehabilitation plan outlined by your doctor may include frequent, short periods of walking with rest sessions in-between. He may allow light stretching, as well as light arm exercises starting in week two or three. You may have a catheter for two weeks; use a leg bag to fasten it under loose-fitting pants, making sure the tubing is comfortably inserted and not pulling.

After several weeks of building your endurance by walking, your doctor may allow you to do light housework or gardening. After six weeks, you may get the green light to try gentle activities like swinging a racket, easy chipping or putting, or light swimming. Many doctors advise patients to wait at least eight weeks after surgery before riding a bicycle — the least desirable activity after prostate surgery, according to Virginia Mason Medical Center. Because running is a vigorous activity, first get your doctor’s approval, then slowly build from light jogging alternating with rest days.

If incontinence is a problem in the weeks or months following surgery, there are many products available to help retain dignity during the recovery process, from disposable male guards and adult diapers, to skin and personal care products. Request a sample pack, or visit our library for more facts on prostate surgery and incontinence.

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, or for one-on-one help with incontinence, call our Product Specialists at 1-800-985-1353 M-F 9-4 CST.

Note: While I am a Physician Assistant and Nutritionist, I can only provide general answers based on my knowledge and experience. I always recommend you see your doctor to review your specific situation before you make any significant healthcare modifications.

Sources: Reuters Health: Exercise may prevent incontinence from prostate surgery, Jan. 7, 2010; Virginia Mason Medical Center: Exercise after prostate removal; Runner’s World: Bill Rodgers runs 4:06 in first marathon in a decade, April 2009


medical malpractice lawyers said...

Usually, a physical check-up is needed before one gets a clean bill signal for physical work-outs. Post surgery is a very delicate state.

How To Get A Six Pack In A Month said...

I think doing some really light exercise shouldn't be much of a problem. Still, it's best to consult your doctor first and secure a go signal.

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