7 Workouts That Will Benefit Anyone With Bladder Issues, from Dead Bugs to Pilates




Bladder issues are common, and increasingly so as we get older. These conditions can run the gamut from urinary tract infections (UTIs) to bladder cancer or bladder prolapse.

Along with lifestyle changes, medications and other treatments, exercise can also be an effective tactic for preventing or minimizing bladder issues. Specific exercises or routines can be beneficial.

Below, we've listed the top expert-endorsed exercises for bladder health. These workouts are basic and simple—and can easily be modified according to your physical abilities. As a bonus, they can help you build strength and improve your overall fitness level.

Related: These Simple 2-Step Exercises Are the Very Best Way To Build Strength Quickly, According to Personal Trainers

1. Pelvic Floor Exercises (Including Kegels)

Weak pelvic muscles are at the root of most bladder control problems, says Dr. R. Mark Ellerkmann, MD, the director of The Urogynecology Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

“We’ve all heard of kegel exercises, and if you do that consistently, it can help with conditions such as stress urinary incontinence," Dr. Ellerkmann says. "Doing pelvic floor exercises can help not only with pelvic leakage but can also help lessen the risk of developing pelvic organ prolapse. I tell my patients to go to a pelvic floor physical therapist who specializes in this because if you do pelvic floor physical therapy with biofeedback, it’s been shown to be more effective.”

How to do it:

  • Sit or lie down with an empty bladder.

  • Engage the pelvic floor muscles by tightening them.

  • Hold for five seconds.

  • Relax for five seconds.

  • Repeat multiple reps three times per day or as instructed by a specialist.

Related: Is It Normal To Wake Up to Pee in the Middle of the Night?

2. Pilates

You may want a longer workout session vs. one single move, perhaps at a studio. That works, too. In fact, any type of workout that focuses on strengthening your core can have bladder benefits, Dr. Ellerkmann says. He cites Pilates as a good option. Try these great Pilates moves that are perfect for beginners.

3. Alternating Leg Lowers

Back to single moves that don't need physical therapists or trainers (for the most part, though seeing one never hurts). Evan Williams, an NSCA-certified personal trainer and conditioning specialist at E2G Performance, echoes Dr. Ellerkmann's recommendation for core strengthening routines.

“Core exercises that are especially great for bladder health focus on the lower abdomen area,” he says. “A great exercise for this would be alternating leg lowers. While doing alternating leg lowers, you will need to fully engage your core while laying back flat on the ground."

How to do it:

  • Keep both legs straight up in the air and the lower back tucked onto the ground.

  • Lower one leg down to create tension in the core.

  • Remain fully engaged and bring your leg back to the start position.

  • Alternate.

Ready to progress?

"To kick it up a notch, you can try the full leg lower, which requires you to lower both legs at the same time," Williams says. "This movement is advanced and requires a good amount of core strength."

Related: Which One Gives You a Better Workout—Barre or Pilates? Trainers Weigh In

4. Dead Bugs

This move may have a funny-sounding name, but it can deliver serious results—plus big-time benefits for your bladder (and your entire pelvic/core region).

“These exercises are a good choice because they improve the overall strength and durability of the core and all muscles associated with the pelvic floor," Williams explains, noting this exercise is a great movement for people at any fitness level.

However, proper form is critical.

"These exercises force the lower back to go into extension, so it is imperative to keep the core fully engaged throughout each movement to keep that from happening," Williams says. "This will, in turn, help the pelvic floor strengthen through constant engagement of the muscle area. These core exercises will help create the strength needed to maintain a functional and healthy bladder.”

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back.

  • Lift legs and bend knees at a 90-degree angle. The knees and hips should be in one line.

  • Lower your right arm and left leg until they hover inches from the floor.

  • Return to start.

  • Do the same on the opposite side.

Related: Why Am I Peeing So Much?

5. Ab Brace and Heel Slide

Gina Newton, CPT, a women’s health advocate and coach, loves how gentle this move is. Though it's low-impact, the ab brace and heel slide will help bolster the pelvic floor and overall bladder control if done consistently.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back with both knees bent and a towel under one foot.

  • Inhale.

  • Exhale to brace your abdominals.

  • Slowly slide your heel out and back in ("The slower you go, the harder it will be," Newton says.).

  • Start with two sets of 10 on each side and build from there.

Related: Abs of Steel! Here Are 8 of the Best Core-Defining Workouts You Can Do at Home

6. Deep Squats (Yogi Squats)

You may be wary to give this one a try if bladder control is an issue, but it can pay off in the long run.

"Moving in and out of the deep squat strengthens the entire core plus almost all of the leg muscles while strengthening the pelvic floor because it has to engage to provide stability and support during the movement," says Rachel Lovitt, CPT, a holistic movement coach.

How to do it:

  • Start with your feet a little wider than your hips with your hips, knees and feet. turned out to about 45 degrees.

  • Sink down into as deep a squat as possible for you.

  • At the bottom of the squat, focus on relaxing the pelvic floor.

  • On an exhale, push through the heels, engage through the leg and hip muscles and think about the pelvic floor slightly lifting as you extend the legs and come back to standing.

"Make sure your back remains straight during the squat, although you may need to hinge forward at the hips for this to work for you," Lovitt says.

Related: 5 Habits That Could Be Harming Your Bladder Health

7. Glute Bridge

A glute bridge is another straightforward yet effective move that you've likely done in at-home or studio workouts.

"Strong glutes support the pelvic floor by maintaining proper pelvic alignment and reducing strain on the bladder, which helps prevent leaks and improves bladder function," says Mike Julom, CPT, of This Is Why I'm Fit.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms at your sides.

  • Place a pillow under your head for comfort.

  • Ensure your feet and knees are hip-width apart.

  • Press your feet onto the floor and lift your hips toward the ceiling while squeezing your glutes and pelvic floor muscles.

  • Hold for a few seconds.

  • Slowly lower back down.

  • Repeat 10 times.

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