Although exercise is deemed essential for good health, many middle-aged women don't exercise because of urinary incontinence. But, says a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, exercise can ease symptoms since obesity increases pressure on the urethra, and exercise can strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
Urinary incontinence is common in women, and affects half of all women at some point. The problem increases with age, especially after menopause. The study found that urinary incontinence was more common in women who led sedentary lifestyles and in those who didn't get the recommended two-and-a-half hours of exercise every week.
Of the Finnish women who participated in the study, just over half had experienced pelvic floor related symptoms. A total of 39 percent of the women had experienced exertion-related urinary incontinence, which was the most common symptom.
The study, said the researchers, indicated that urinary incontinence discouraged women from exercising.
"Health care professionals should be asking openly whether urinary incontinence is a barrier to exercise," said researcher and urogynecologist Pauliina Aukee.
"If a patient is suffering from urinary incontinence symptoms, the forms of exercise they undertake should include exercises that support core and pelvic floor management without intense bouncing movements. This should also be taken into account in exercise guidance.
"Managing symptoms and taking them into account can help people find a form of exercise that suits them, and that does not place too much of a burden on the pelvic floor," Aukee said. "This will allow people to continue exercise in an enjoyable way even after going through menopause."
A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that older women could lower their risk of urinary incontinence by staying trim and strong. It found that decreasing body mass index by 5 percent halved the risk of the problem. The study also found that a decrease in grip strength raised the risk by 60 percent.
According to the National Association for Incontinence, about 25 million American adults suffer from some form of urinary incontinence, and 75 to 80 percent of them are women. Approximately 23 percent of women over the age of 60 suffer from incontinence.
© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.