Doing Kegel (KAY-gul or KEY-gul) exercises will strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder and bowel and help you prepare for childbirth. By doing Kegel exercises regularly and keeping the pelvic floor muscles toned, you may reduce your risk of leaking urine and similar problems as you get older. Learning the right way to do Kegel exercises can be tricky.
Kegel exercises are simple exercises that strengthen your perineal muscles – the muscles around the vagina and urinary opening, that help to support the uterus (womb), bladder and rectum. To do Kegels the right way – with an empty bladder do the following exercises:
- Exercise 1
- Tighten the muscles, hold them tight for two to three seconds, then relax for 10 times. Build up to 10 seconds relaxed and 10 seconds contracted.
- Exercise 2
- Tighten and release the muscles five times as quickly as you can.
Why Are Kegel Exercises Important?
The Perineal muscles can become weakened by:
- Decreased estrogen levels during and following menopause
- Increased pressure on the perineal muscles, such as during running and coughing
When the perineal muscles are weakened, you may notice the following:
- An uncomfortable feeling of pressure or heaviness
- Leaking of urine when laughing, coughing, running or doing exercise
- Bulging of the bladder into the vagina (cystocele)
- Bulging of the rectum into the vagina (rectocele)
- Dropping of the uterus into the vagina
How To Do Kegel Exercises
You can find the perineal muscles by stoping and restarting the flow of urine. If you can do this, you can control and strengthen your perineal muscle. Kegel exercises can be done anywhere at any time. No one can see you doing the exercises. You can exercise while watching TV, driving a car, doing housework, lying in bed, or while you???re at work. However, don’t do kegels by starting and stopping the flow of urine – this could weaken the muslces.
Developing a routine helps you to become more consistent; e.g. do the exercises during every stop light, during commercials on TV, after using the bathroom, etc.
These exercises may seem difficult or tiring at first, but with practice, the muscles will get stronger.
- Try to tighten the pelvic floor muscles a little more strongly each day.
- Keep the muscles of the abdomen, thighs and hips relaxed and don’t hold your breath.
- Do these exercises everyday.
- If continuous exercise causes fatigue, try exercising for one or two minutes, then rest for several minutes before continuing.
- You should see results in about 8 to 12 weeks.
Before you exercise your body needs time to get blood to the parts of your body that you are going to exercise.?? If you start exercising before your body is ready, you may hurt yourself.?? So, before you begin to exercise:
- Warm up the muscles you will be using.?? For example, if you plan on walking, walk slowly for 5 minutes before you really get into walking briskly.?? If bike riding is what you want to do, go slowly for 5 minutes before you go faster.
- Stretch your muscles.?? After the blood has moved into your muscles, you need to stretch them.?? This is to help prevent painful muscle pulls, cramps and soreness during and/or after exercising.?? Never stretch cold muscles.?? Also, remember to breathe while exercising.
Your heart needs to be strong to pump well.?? You can make your heart stronger with only 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercises 3-6 days a week.
Aerobic exercises are ones in which you move your arms and legs the whole time you do them.?? Walking, jogging, dancing and cycling are aerobic.?? After only a few months of regular exercise:
- Your hear can pump more blood and oxygen to your lungs and through your body
- You will likely have more energy
- You may sleep better and feel less stress
- You may find your blood pressure has gone down (your blood glucose too)
- You can lose body fat and help tone up your muscles
- Your good cholesterol (HDL) level may go up
After You Exercise
Before you stop exercising, slow your pace and cool down just like you warmed up.?? This lets your body gently return blood from your muscles to other places.?? Then stretch your muscles again.?? This helps prevent soreness later.Tags: Exercise physiology, Muscular system, Aerobic exercise, Sports medicine, exercise, Physical exercise