Feeling the Winter Blues? You're not alone.
It's estimated that around 2 million people in the UK and more than 12 million across Northern Europe are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), often nicknamed 'the Winter Blues'.
SAD symptoms include:
- Feeling demotivated
- Sleep problems
- Feeling exhausted
- Feeling unsociable
- Finding it hard to focus
- Over-eating or avoiding food
If your symptoms are interrupting your life on a daily basis and hindering every day tasks, it's important to see a doctor.
No two people are affected the same by SAD, so what works for you, may not work for someone else, and vice versa. You may have to try a few things before you feel a benefit or try something a good few times consistently before noticing a difference. Hang in there.
Exercise is proven to make us happier. Regular exercise reduces anxiety and depression, but aerobic exercise increases serotonin production within the body. Serotonin is also known as a "happy hormone" along with Dopamine, Endorphins & Oxytocin.
Aerobic exercise is known to significantly increase the production of serotonin, and typically, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise is said to give you the "serotonin high".
What is aerobic exercise?
It's important to note that all exercise has it's benefits such as yoga and pilates and increases serotonin, just not as much as aerobic exercise.
Aerobic means "with oxygen" and is exercise that conditions our cardiovascular system. Breathing controls the amount of oxygen within our bodies that reaches the muscles to help them to move and burn fuel.
As with all exercise, it's best practice to warm up, cool down and stretch when doing aerobic exercise.
If you have an ostomy, it's always better to go by the advice of a medical professional as to when is best to start an exercise program or increase exercise after surgery.
Also, it's even more vital for ostomates to stay hydrated. Rehydration tablets such as ORS hydration tablets are a good thing to have handy for boosted hydration on the go.
Comfizz support during exercise
It's also important to remember to wear stoma supportwear when exercising. Our blog post "what is stoma supportwear?" is a comprehensive guide to the ins and outs of stoma supportwear and our products, here at Comfizz.
Gareth wears two of our Level 1 7" coloured waistbands, to equate to a Level 2 support.
Our Level 2 (medium support) range is perfect for exercise, especially aerobic exercise. Designed to give you the support you need, all whilst allowing your stoma to function as normal, you can exercise in Comfizz with confidence. Our Level 2 range is also designed to support smaller hernias, and Level 3 (our firmest support range) is ideal for larger hernias or when doing more strenuous exercise such as weight-lifting.
Did you know that you can also layer our garments to the customised level of support you require? For example, by combining two Level 1 waistbands, you will create a Level 2 support (as pictured above), or you may combine a Level 2 and Level 1 garment together to get a support geared more towards Level 3, our firmest support level.
Our marl waistbands are limited edition and are currently on a "buy 2, get 1 free" offer, when 3 are added to the basket. Stock is running out on these items and once they're gone, they're gone, so be sure to secure your support today!
Our leggings are also perfect for exercise, whether you're on a brisk walk or want to wear them under shorts to layer up for a workout.
If you prefer a top for support, we also do men's, women's and junior's vests. All of these garments are Level 1 (light support) so can be combined with our other garments to achieve your desired support level.
Benefits of aerobic exercise
As mentioned above, aerobic exercise is great for our cardiovascular system, which refers to the heart and blood vessels.
Benefits also include:
- Decreased risk of heart disease
- Boosts "good" cholesterol
- Improves lung function
- Lowers blood pressure
- Helps to manage blood sugar
- Decreases resting heart rate
5 aerobic exercises to try
As with all exercise, it's important to do these exercises at a pace and level that suits you then build on these as and when you feel ready.
The general advice is to do no more than 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5-7 days a week, but of course, this is down to you as an individual.
There is a myth that you can't swim with an ostomy bag - but you can!
Most ostomates manage to swim as normal without any worries with their bag and just change so that they have a fresh bag afterwards. The adhesive of the bag can go a bit gooey round the edges when in water for a while, but if in doubt and for peace of mind, you can always schedule a toilet break in every so often to check your ostomy bag.
Our garments are all fine to use in water, so long as you thoroughly wash them afterwards as chlorine can reduce the garment lifespan. A lot of people find wearing our waistbands under normal swimwear help to support them and give them a confidence boost. Also, we do swimwear especially for ostomates.
Some ostomates, if swimming gently eg at a spa day, feel confident to wear normal swimwear on its own.
Having an ostomy should not prevent you from running & in fact, for a lot of ostomates, running is a hobby that they take up several months post surgery because for many who have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), this wasn't possible before surgery down to urgency and pain.
It's important to remember with exercise that sweating can sometimes affect the adhesion of your bag, especially when doing exercises such as running or cycling, so wearing our support wear can help to keep it in place and if worst comes to worst, help to contain a leak. Stoma accessories such as flange extenders can also be used as extensions to your ostomy bag adhesive to add extra adhesion.
Wearing the right support and feeling secure is vital when running with an ostomy. You could try wearing our Level 2 (medium support) 10" double layer waistband under your running gear, or even our Level 2 boxers or briefs. You could also try our Level 1 bamboo boxers or briefs with a Level 1 Limited Edition waistband (7" or 10" depth) on top for combined Level 2 support.
There are ostomates that run regularly and also have ran or are training to run marathons.
Meet Ant (@ibdlife), our regular vlogger, who has a few tips for us on running and is also running the London Marathon 2023 to raise funds for Guts UK:
"1. Get yourself a great support belt/garments. Keep that bag in place and secure so you can forget about it!
2. Run slowly and build up your pace and distance.
3. Enjoy it! Run for the enjoyment of it and not because you have to."
To support Ant in the London Marathon & make a donation to his Just Giving page for Guts UK, click here.
Meet Ru (@rutalksibd) who has a few tips for us on running:
- "Eat something about an hour before, to get your guts to move before you head out.
- Have a hydration drink before you go, and take one with you.
- Make sure your bag is fairly new on and apply flange extenders for extra security.
- Wear a belt for abdominal support and also for further bag security.
- Build up slowly and stay close to home when you first start, whilst you build confidence in your fitness and bag."
Ru is wearing our Level 3 15cm Neutral Belt.
Cycling is an excellent form of exercise which allows you to alter the level of intensity to a level that's just right for you.
If you have had your rectum removed, it's definitely worth speaking to your stoma nurse even more so before you get back on your bike, to make sure that your wound has fully healed and won't be negatively impacted by cycling.
Taking someone to cycle alongside you can be a good form of moral support if you are feeling anxious and stay closer to home. An alternative to cycling outside could be buying an exercise bike or using an exercise bike at the gym.
Our supportwear can help to stop your ostomy bag dangling and rubbing your leg, which can get very uncomfy. However, be careful not to choose clothing to go cycling that is too small/too tight as this can prevent your ostomy output from falling down into your bag, causing "pancaking". Our garments are designed to allow your ostomy to function as normal, whilst providing support, security and comfort.
You may even want to give our Level 2 double layer boxers a try (see above) - think of it as a waistband and boxer in one!
Meet Jess (@theibddietitian) who has a permanent ileostomy and is a Gastro Dietitian. Jess, being a keen cyclist herself, shared her tips on cycling with us. This is what she had to say:
- "Invest in some padded cycling shorts. Hard bike saddles are uncomfortable at the best of times, but especially if you’ve had ‘barbie/Ken bum’ surgery! For longer mileage, consider trying ‘bib’ shorts (shorts with straps) which are less likely to roll down and so can help the stoma bag feel more secure when you lean forward in a cycling position.
- Use a support band such as Comfizz' to help keep the stoma bag pressed against the skin to prevent any chafing when you are pedaling.
- Consider using stoma tape/ flange extenders around the stoma flange for extra security against leaks from the movement and sweating
- Stoma surgery involves cutting through the abdominal muscles which help us with balance and stability on a bike. Doing regular core exercises off the bike will help increase strength and make you feel more stable and confident on a bike.
- Carry ‘emergency’ stoma supplies with you. Cycling tops with large pockets in the back are ideal for stoma essentials, or consider a small saddle bag to store them in.
- Both endurance exercise and having a stoma make you more susceptible to dehydration. Fill a bike bottle with an electrolyte drink, not just water to help replace the salt losses.
- Finally…get out there and have FUN! Remember, it doesn’t matter how slowly you pedal, you are still lapping everyone on the sofa!"
This is a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air! This is another exercise that can be altered to suit your needs and is also a great way to explore and enjoy nature. Even if you are a wheelchair user or need to use a walking stick, getting outside can give you the serotonin top up that you need, and is still exercise, whatever pace you need to go at.
Aerobics combines rhythm with stretching and strength training all in one. A lot of swimming pools also run water aerobics classes, which can be great to try if you love swimming.
If you prefer to be on dry land, the NHS have a "Aerobics for beginners" 45-minute video which has been rated a 2/5 intensity which you can follow at home.
Gym Possible also have a 20-minute accessible wheelchair aerobics video to follow, but this can be done by anybody, not just wheelchair users.
Remember that having an ostomy shouldn't prevent you from doing exercise, even if you have to alter it to your own needs. If you are concerned, seek medical advice and to be safe and help to prevent a hernia, always wear the right supportwear.
Do you have any tips for exercising with an ostomy or have any serotonin-boosting activities that you'd like to share? Leave us a comment below!
Disclaimer: As always, this post is from our Social Media & Marketing Specialist, Amy's, experience of living with a permanent ileostomy, Crohn's Disease and from what she has researched. Nothing in our blog posts should be taken as medical advice. It's always best to consult a medical professional if you have queries or concerns.
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