Exercising and Hydrating with an Ostomy

As ostomates, you are susceptible to excessive liquid loss. Since physical activity heighten this fact, hydration during sports is critical. Hydration is key for both physical health and overall performance. Dehydration makes your blood thicker and in turn less efficient to transport oxygen. Muscles get tired faster and your performance decreases. Dehydration diminishes one’s capacity to sweat, leading to overheating and poor performance as well. Exercising while dehydrated may cause heat exhaustion (fall in blood pressure accompanied by dizziness and nausea). Continuing to work-out under these circumstances may induce a heat stroke (seizures, coma, or death).

You need to know your body and understand what your specific situation entails. It’s a good approach to discuss your exercise program with an ostomy health professional to determine the fluid intakes recommended before, during, and after.

As a baseline, it is good to know what is recommended for non-ostomate amateur athletes. Depending on your type of ostomy you should ingest at least that much fluid. The normal advice is to drink either water or a sports drink (16 oz.) one hour ahead and right before your workout (one glass). Depending on exercise intensity, weather, and humidity, have some more every 10 minutes. If you are exercising vividly for less than 30 minutes, drink approximately 6 oz. of fluids every 15-20 minutes. Water would be fine. For longer durations where there is risk of glycogen depletion (30 minutes of vigorous exercise or more), a sports drink containing glucose and electrolytes is recommended. Ostomy patients must pay special attention to electrolytes, those with an ileostomy in particular.

For activities lasting several hours, energy bars should be considered. Once finished, have at least a half glass of water and no less than two servings of some juicy fruit like watermelons, oranges, or grapes. On a hot day after an intense session with heavy sweat, you will actually need a few pints of water or drinks containing no alcohol or caffeine, and a few servings of fruit. Have protein full foods to repair muscles. If you have a urostomy, this will also help you maintain your urine acidic. Beware of sugary drinks. Adding more calories than needed will just make you gain weight.

Fluid intake is related to the amount of fluid lost. To determine how much needs to be replenished, you may want to compare your weight before and after exercise. Alternatively, check your urine. When it gets clear like water, the likelihood is that you are well hydrated. Always remember that with age, our thirsty alarm wears out. Therefore do not wait to be thirsty before hydrating.

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