The Best Exercise for Weight Loss that Avoids Prolapse Worsening

Are you unsure about choosing the best exercise for weight loss with prolapse or after prolapse surgery? best weight loss exercise

Weight loss exercise with prolapse issues is often disheartening – especially if you’ve been advised to avoid the high impact exercises you previously used for weight control.

You may be very surprised at how effectively the pelvic floor safe exercises listed below will help you burn fat and lose weight.

Read on now to learn:

  • Top 20 pelvic floor safe weight loss exercises (in order of effectiveness)
  • The best exercise for weight loss with prolapse problems
  • 8 Less effective women’s weight loss exercises
  • Quick tips for maximising low impact weight loss exercise
  • How losing abdominal fat improves prolapse problems

Top 20 Pelvic Floor Safe Weight Loss Exercises Best Weight Loss Exercise

Low impact aerobic fitness exercises are the best weight loss exercise for women with prolapse and after prolapse surgery.

Not all exercises suit all women, the list below from The Compendium of Physical Activities1 is intended as a general guide to help you choose effective weight loss exercises. Read on below this table for more details.

Best Weight Loss Exercise

Energy Burned
(METS)
Low Impact Exercise
16 Road cycling (fast racing >20mph)
11.0Swimming freestyle (fast/vigorous effort)
10.0Swimming breaststroke
9Stair treadmill ergometer machine
8.5Spin class
7.0 Stationary bike (moderate effort 100 Watts)
7.0Swimming freestyle (slow to moderate effort)
7.0Stationary rowing (moderate effort 100 Watts)
7.0Cross country skiiing (slow/light effort 2.5mph or 4km/h)
6.8Water aerobics
6.8Jazzercise
6.0Hiking cross country
5Elliptical machine
5Low impact aerobics
4.5Dancing (disco folk square, fast ballroom)
4.5Golf (walking not pulling clubs)
3.8Brisk walking firm surface (3.5 mph or 5.6 km/h)
3.5Stationary rowing light effort (50 Watts)
3.3Moderate speed walking firm surface (3 mph or 4.8 km/h)

What are METS?

A MET is a measure of the energy requirement of a particular activity. The higher the number of METS the greater the calories burnt by an average healthy adult with that activity or exercise. One MET is the energy expended by an average adult sitting quietly. Activities that burn less than 3 METS are generally considered to be light.

Why choose low impact exercise?

Low impact exercise involves minimal landing impact e.g. cycling. If you have prolapse problems the best exercise for weight loss is low impact fitness exercise that protects your pelvic cycling weight loss exercisefloor and burns the most energy.

High impact exercise involves both feet off the ground at once and landing e.g. running. High impact exercise forces the pelvic floor downwards increasing the likelihood of pelvic floor strain, weakness and worsening prolapse problems.

The low impact exercises listed above are ordered from most to least effective for calorie burning according to their energy cost (METS).

The Best Weight Loss Exercise for Prolapse

The best weight loss exercise with prolapse problems is exercise that burns abdominal fat.

The more abdominal fat you carry, the greater the load on your pelvic floor, prolapse or prolapse repair.

What is the best weight loss exercise to lose abdominal fat?

Aerobic or fitness exercise! Resistance Exercises

Aerobic exercise is more effective than resistance (strength) exercise for losing abdominal fat.

Resistance exercises have many benefits for women including increasing strength and lean muscle but are not the best weight loss exercise.

Aerobic exercise burns more energy than resistance exercise and is therefore the best exercise for weight loss.

Aerobic fitness exercises:

  • Noticeably increase your heart rate
  • Are rhythmical and continuous
  • Involves the large muscles of your body

8 Less Effective Women’s Weight Loss Exercises

While these following exercises can have health benefits, they are not best weight loss exercise for most women:

Less Effective Weight Loss Exercises

Energy Burned
(METS)
Low Impact Exercise
4.0Tai Chi
3.5Golf (power cart)
3.5Curves
3.0Pilates
3.0Weight lifting (light to moderate effort)
2.5Hatha Yoga
2.5Walking slow (2.0 mph or 3.22 km/h)
2.5Stretching

Quick Tips for Maximising Low Impact Weight Loss Exercise

1. Exercise before breakfast – when you exercise before eating, your energy source is stored fat rather than carbohydrates consumed during the day. This is the time of day when your pelvic floor muscles will work best rather than later in the day when fatigued.

2. Vary the intensity of exercise – research tells us that alternating high and low intensity interval training is the best weight loss exercise intensity (especially for abdominal fat loss). Alternating 8 seconds of fast or high intensity with 12 seconds of slow or low intensity exercise over 20 minutes, 3 times a week has been shown to effectively promote abdominal weight loss in women doing low impact exercises including stationary cycling.

3. Split up your daily workouts – rather than one long 40 minute workout, divide this into two 20 minute sessions. This means when you do exercise you will be able to do so at a higher intensity. It will also provide your pelvic floor with some recovery time too.

4. Include extra short bursts of activity – if your work involves long hours of sitting, a quick brisk walk will ramp up your overall daily calorie burning

5. Perform weights (resistance) exercise before fitness exercise – this helps to mobilise your fat stores to use as energy during your energy burning fitness exercise

6. Prioritise fitness over resistance training – resistance training is fantastic for women, however if you are overweight or obese and time poor and you need to choose between fitness and resistance, fitness exercise will more effectively promote weight loss

7. Choose a variety of low impact exercises – varying your low impact exercises regularly will help you promote weight loss. If you’ve ever done the same exercise reoutine day in day out without losing any weight you will realise the pitfall of this apprach. Different muscles will be challenged with different exercises to burn more energy. Doing a varied exercise program also helps to avoid overuse injuries and keep you interested and motivated in your exercise routine.

How Losing Abdominal Fat Improves Prolapse Problems

Abdominal fat loads your pelvic floor. The more abdominal fat you carry, the greater the load on your pelvic floor. Lower abdominal fat

Abdominal fat is also known as “visceral fat”.  Abdominal fat isn’t the fat you feel around your waist or middle (shown right); it’s the fat that sits inside your abdomen filling the spaces between your abdominal organs.

When you stand upright the load of your abdomen combines with gravity to create downward pressure on your pelvic floor, potentially straining your pelvic floor tissues and worsening your prolapse problems with exercise.

If you have a prolapse or if you’ve had prolapse surgery and you are carrying too much abdominal fat, losing abdominal fat will help your prolapse by taking a load off your pelvic floor when you are upright.

Key Points for Best Exercise for Weight Loss and Prolapse

The best exercise for weight loss that avoids prolapse worsening and recurrent prolapse are aerobic fitness exercises. To maximise weight loss with prolapse problems, some key points to remember are:

  • Low impact exercises protect your pelvic floor more than high impact exercises
  • Cycling and swimming exercises rank highly for energy burning
  • Yoga and Pilates do not rank highly as weight loss exercises
  • Vary the low impact exercises you choose to maximise your weight loss
  • Losing abdominal fat will reduce the load on your pelvic floor.

prolapse exercisesABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Prolapse Exercises Inside Out. Prolapse Exercises is a complete exercise guide for women with prolapse and after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.

 

 

1Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett DR Jr, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-Glover MC, Leon AS.(2011) Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Aug;43(8):1575-81.

Comments

  1. After a year of really not knowing what to do in regards to
    Exercise after prolapse surgery , this has given me some valuable tools
    To keeping my health and fitness without compromising my surgery.
    Thank you for thinking of us ladies Michelle

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Lans
      My pleasure, all the best to you for your future safe exercise and protecting your repair.
      MIchelle

  2. Thank you so much for sharing all of this information. I have purchased your books and your video and I just want to truly thank you for giving me hope that I can stay fit and active, even as I face pelvic floor problems. You have no idea how much hope and joy you have brought to my life. The one thing I still miss is yoga. Would you consider making a yoga video for women with pelvic floor issues? Thank you so very much for all you do!

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi M
      Yes a Yoga DVD is on my to do list, are you on my newsletter list? I will keep ladies notified when I get this completed. All the best and thank you for taking the time to comment!
      Best wishes
      Michelle

  3. How does horseback riding affect prolapse? I have moderate bladder and rectal prolapse and like to do trail riding in the summer. Mainly walking, not a lot of trotting or running.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Karen
      The walking is the key – I would be inclined to stick with the low impact walking and avoid trotting with a moderate prolapse.
      All the best
      Michelle

  4. Great information these exercises for after prolapse surgery are truly enjoying this,thanks Michelle

  5. Renee Noel says:

    Finally a site that actually helps women with pelvic problems. I can’t thank you enough for the plethora of helpful information that you’ve given!

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Renee
      Thanks so much for your comment! Yes that’s the goal – any ideas for articles or videos for ladies with pelvic floor problems are most welcome
      Kindest regards
      Michelle

    • I have put this website on hystersisters website as we needed to have this info ten years ago, you have given me confidence back after prolapse repair surgery and hysterectomy. I was depressed due to no exercise increasing my endorphins now l am an empowered woman again- thanks bucket loads to u all

      • Michelle Kenway says:

        Thank you Sandi- So glad to hear you’ve got that exercise high happening again – what would we do without it!
        Keep it up
        Cheers
        Michelle

      • Michelle Kenway says:

        Thank you Sandi- I’m so glad to hear you’ve got that exercise high happening again – what would we do without it!
        Keep it up
        Cheers
        Michelle

  6. Brenda Frank says:

    Thanks for the advice. I used to use running (outside on sidewalks) as my primary exercise. It is so effective as aerobic exercise. Guess that’s history.

    I probably should be thankful that I can still do all the alternative aerobic exercises. Swimming is a good workout, just not as convenient and usually not outside in the sunshine. Biking outside is OK, but difficult in McLean, VA. The way people drive here, bicyclists can end up as roadkill.

    We should all just do the most of whatever we can do. I appreciate your support and guidance.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Agreed Brenda – somtimes women are advised not to run and think they are finished in terms of exercise, fitness and weight management. Sometimes just to know there are alternatives gives hope, You are right do whatever we can do and I would add to that hopefully what we enjoy too.

      Best wishes
      Michelle

  7. Barbara says:

    Hi Michelle – having had surgery to repair my pelvic floor a bit over 12 months ago, I’d love to get back into cycling but understand that it’s not advisable to stand up on the pedals when going up hills. Is this true? Also would paddle boarding and rock climbing be out of the question? I’d like to run again – my run is more of a shuffle – is this unsafe for the pelvic floor? Thanking you

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Barbara
      With repeat prolapse surgery the risk of prolapse is further increased so that it is very important to make wise choices when it comes to general exercise in addition to maximising your pelvic floor muscle function with pelvic floor exercises. Cycling with low to medium resistance is suitable for most women having fully healed, avoid pedal resistance that causes intense effort like standing in the pedals going up hills. Rock climbing and running are not advisable for women at increased risk of repeat prolapse. As for paddle boarding do you mean paddling standing up with a long paddle?
      Cheers
      Michelle

  8. How about pedal boating? You would be sitting with your legs extended in front of your body while pedaling. Is it safe?

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Laura
      I think the pedal boats are fairly light in resistance aren’t they? In this case they are a little like a recumbent cycle which is usually a pelvic floor safe exercise for most women.
      Cheers
      Michelle

  9. Barbara says:

    Thanks Michelle. Yes I mean paddle boarding standing up with a long paddle.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      OK Barbara paddleboarding involves core abdominal work – the amount will depend on how forcefully you drive the paddle/speed of paddling and the conditions. Whether your pelvic floor strength can withstand the pressure is not known to me, however this is an exercise to be approached with caution especially with a history of recurrent prolapse. The key is to avoid straining and strengthen your pelvic floor to minimise your risk of further surgery.

      I hope this information helps you Barbara
      Cheers
      Michelle

  10. Hi Michelle, I am a 54 year old Australian lady currently residing in USA. I have been receiving your emails & very much appreciating your wisdom on pelvic floor related matters for a couple of years now. In the USA I have become aware of a form of exercise called pure barre. I had a hysterectomy for severe prolapse along with repair to a cystocele & rectocele after my second child. Do you think pure barre exercises are safe to perform for a compromised pelvic floor? I look forward to learning your thoughts.

    Kind regards,

    Sue

  11. Hello again Michelle,

    I am also wondering what you think about the appropriateness of Zumba for a compromised pelvic floor.

    Thank you,

    Sue

  12. Hi Michelle,
    Thank you so much for the work that you do to help women with prolapse issues. Your website brings so much direction and comfort to something that can be quite a scary to face. My question is would you say ballet and barre exercise is an appropriate exercise or would you recommend i avoid it? I’m thinking some of the squats wouldn’t be good but not sure about the rest.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Jodie
      Some ballet exercises will increase the risk of prolapse problems in some women – particularly the intense core exercises. I have worked with a number of ex-ballerinas who have had prolapse problems after vaginal delivery. I think that for some of these women the intense core training involved in ballet made their pelvic floor muscles so strong, tight and resistant to stretch that their risk of pelvic floor muscle injury during birth may have been increased.

      I am not familiar with ballet training moves other than some basic ones such as the plie and grand-plie which will very likely increase pressure on the pelvic floor. I would think that like most forms of structured activity and exercise, there will be some ballet positions and moves that may increase pressure on the pelvic floor and others that will be pelvic floor safe. Then there’s the posture training t consider which is wonderful.

      Are there some moves in particular you are concerned about doing Jodie? Maybe you can let me know the specifics.

      Michelle

      • Hi Michelle, thank you so much for your reply. It’s actually not a sport that i’m that very familiar with, it’s just something i’ve been interested in learning for a long time. But i’m thinking that maybe i should give it a miss.
        I’ve been doing Tracy Anderson exercises on and off for a few years which involves light weights for arms and lots of tummy, leg and butt exercises (on hands and knees, doing different leg-lifts) – lots of body weight resistance exercises designed to target “accessory” muscles instead of targeting large muscle groups by doing different exercises instead of the same ones over again. And there’s also a dance cardio component.I’m thinking of continuing that after this pregnancy but not doing the tummy exercises and being very careful on the dance cardio not to jump off the ground. Hopefully leg-lifts are safe, and maybe i can do the arm lifts seated? I’m halfway through my second pregnancy and have discovered that i think i may have a rectocele – i get a feeling of pressure when i’ve been standing up for a while, and also problems with doing #2 – feeling like it’s pushing in the wrong direction :/ so it’s self-diagnosed but i’ll mention it to my midwife at my next appointment on Monday. My first birth had a long stage three part of labour and the use of forceps for delivery as my baby was posterior.
        I am feeling worried about this next labour/birth and am starting to ride my stationery bike to get my fitness up, and working on my pelvic floor, but this article got me a little confused about pelvic floor exercises… is the reason you recommend a maximum of 24 pelvic floor exercises a day so that people don’t over-strengthen and have problems for being too resistant in that area? As in, 24 a day will (hopefully) get someone to just the right amount of strength? I don’t get why they think squats could be a good way to gain buttock strength for people with pelvic floor issues when there are many other ways to achieve that outcome.
        http://slowmama.com/health-wellness/dont-know-squat-about-pfd/
        Sorry for such a long post, i really appreciate your time.

        • Michelle Kenway says:

          Hi Jodie

          The symptoms you describe are consistent with posterior vaginal wall prolapse and need to be checked by your health professional for accurate diagnosis. You may be aware that forceps is one of the risk factors for future prolapse.

          What do the Tracey Anderson leg lifts involve? Yes to your other modifications, you are spot on!

          As far as this article goes recommending squats instead of pelvic floor exercises, you are exactly right – I think women need to be very careful in terms of knowing accurate evidence based information. Evidence based information should be based on high quality randomized controlled trials or studies to support the idea or hypothesis. There is good quality evidence to support pelvic floor exercises for pelvic floor rehabilitation; strengthening pelvic floor muscles, addressing stress urinary incontinence and relieving prolapse symptoms and training the pelvic floor prolapse to sit higher within the pelvis. I do not know of any such information supporting squats over pelvic floor exercises. Muscle training needs to be really specific and involve or target those muscles in which the effect is desired. For example if you want to strengthen your biceps, you train your biceps not another muscle group. The same holds true for the pelvic floor muscles. In scientific terms this is known as specificity.

          Finally worth mentioning that stool management is really important for posterior vaginal wall prolapse issues, especially during and immediately after pregnancy when constipation is a risk. This information about stool softener foods may help you a little as well as this one about rectocoele repair.

          All the best Jodie
          Michelle

  13. Hi Michelle,
    Thank you so much for your response again, you’ve helped me so much.
    What i’m most worried about is that if i don’t elect to have a caesarean this time that the next baby will be facing the wrong way (as i feel that maybe my body is not balanced properly and encourages the baby to swing the wrong way), and that forceps will be used again and further damage done. Hopefully, the people that i come into contact with – midwives, etc – will take my fears into consideration and that the right decisions will be made. Sorry to take up so much of your time, and this is my last question – do you recommend people with rectocele to have a caesarean, and is there a possibility that with further damage i would not be able to carry and birth another child?

  14. Hi,
    Please can you discuss the merits or otherwise of using a concept 2 rowing machine 6 mths post hysterectomy?. Thanks Dotty

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Dotty
      I outlined rowing machine in the recent newsletter did you receive this information? let me know if you didn’t and I will forward it to you.
      Kindest regards
      Michelle

  15. Stephanie says:

    Hi Michelle.Thank you for all your dedication.You’ve given me hope.I am 5 months postnatal (3rd child,1st pregnancy in 18 years 2nd vaginal birth).Although I haven’t officially been diagnosed with POP I am sure I have it to some degree.I am awaiting your book and DVD in the mail(very excited).My question is..Is it safe to use a stationary bike with moving arms?

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Stephanie
      Congratulations to you! Stationary bike is a low impact pelvic floor friendly exercise – keep the arm resistance low until you know more about yur pelvic floor and while you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles post bub. Stephanie this article on cycling would help you with a little more information on cycling and your pelvic floor
      https://www.pelvicexercises.com.au/pelvic-prolapse-exercises/

      Hope this helps you out Stephanie – stationary cycle would be an ideal form of fitness exercise with your new baby to help you exercise at home.

      All the best
      Michelle

  16. OMG. I was “googling” unable to sleep and I have run across all this fantastic information. I live in Texas, where we have one of the best medical centers in the world. I have what I consider a good gynecologist, internal medince doctor and urologist. I am a 54 years old, have had 3 vaginal births. Sorry if this is TMI!! My gynecologist failed to bring to my attention that I have bladder prolapse. Not until my bladder was bulging slightly (like a water balloon) from my vaginal area, and I brought it to his attention, did we discuss it. He referred me to a urologist. The urologist began discussing surgery with me. A year later, I still had not had the surgery. My husband (who works at the medical center, but is not an MD) had referred me to a group there who I assume do physical therapy for prolapse and pelvic floor issues. The only problem was, they needed a referral from the urologist. The urologist proceeded to tell me that the therapists were “quacks” and that they could not help me. Needless to say, I have basically just been avoiding the issue. You would think in one of the best medical centers in the world, I would get some more helpful advice. I do not want to have surgery if I can help it. I was seeing a very good wellness coach for some other health issues and also to help lower my medical insurance premium. Long story story, she suggested that I try a workout called “Pure Barre.” She thought it would be fun for me to try something new. I have low back issues and she felt the program would be beneficial for that and to maintain a healthy weight. I have tried the program off and on for the past 3 months. Only now that I am having some issued with frequent urination has it dawned on me that Pure Barre, although a wonderful program and something that is probably beneficial to my low back, is not beneficial at all for my prolapsed bladder!! Pure Barre uses Pilates, along with barre work and stretching to increase strength. Also some light weight lifting. It is a great program and a real challenge for me. The only problem is the planking and pilates. Not good at all for me. The girls at the Pure Barre studio of course are not aware that I have a prolapsed bladder, but I had mentioned it to my wellness coach. Now I am afraid I have done much more harm than good. I noticed I am having to go to the restroom much more frequently. I thank you so much for this site and all the good info. on proper exercises for pelvic floor. I have a long history of back problems, probably all due to my weak pelvic floor. There are some things I just cannot do in my exercise class. For example lifting up from a prone position. I just cannot come straight up. I have to roll to my side. Anyway, your sites on pelvic exercises, etc. have so much more appropriate information than I have ever gotten out of any of my local doctors. Shocking. I thank you so much for all of the info. Sorry, I have written so much. It is just amazing to me how little I knew until I read the information on your websites.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Ann thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share your experiences – very helpful for women to read about what others go through, often similar for many. It helps to normalise pelvic floor issues and the lack of understanding in some quarters.

      All the best for your future health and wellbeing.
      Michelle

  17. Thank you Michelle for your words of wisdom. I am a moderately slim 74 year old (BMI 25) but with a belly that seems to be growing no matter what. I have had several bursts of prolapse surgery and also a bad arthritic knee and hip so I need to be careful about what exercises I do. At the moment I am alternating swimming (mainly backstroke and water walking) with stationary cycling (at least 30 minutes per day). I have been told that at my age I shouldn’t try to lose weight as I would lose muscle with the weight loss. I am, however, worried about visceral fat weighing down on my pelvic floor. Should I try to get rid of this by more intensive exercising or a combination of diet and exercise.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Maree

      If you’re exercising and eating well you will lose fat over muscle. It’s not necessarily how much a woman weighs but where she stores her body fat and abdominal fat just doesn’t help the pelvic floor. You also need to ensure you don’t become underweight. The cardio exercise routine you’re doing at the moment sounds good. Some light weights might also help your general health too.The best way for you forward is healthy diet and exercise combined along with some light resistance training (pelvic floor safe). Also just as an afterthought get your abdomen checked by your doctor – just make sure nothing else is going on to cause your abdominal distension.

      All the best!
      Michelle

  18. Hi Michelle,
    I (excitedly!) noticed that you listed a spin class as an acceptable exercise- would you recommend staying seated throughout the class through?
    Also, can you recommend any pelvic floor safe exercise providers in South Austalia?

    Thanks so much, Kirsty

  19. Hi Michelle,

    I’m 25 and just had my 3rd prolapse repair surgery for all the areas :/ which hasn’t fully gone to plan. I use to love running and hate how much weight I’ve put on. I was given no information about what is or isn’t safe after surgery except 4 weeks no lifting. Therefore last 2 surgeries I hit the gym hard post op only 6 weeks later not knowing I was doing damage. With cycling is it safe to cycle on hills? I live in a very hilly area so hard to find flat areas. Also is it safe to stand up when cycling?

    Thanks,
    Nicky

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Nicky
      It’s a shame you weren’t given advice on this – you are very young to have had 3 surgeries to date so it’s vital that you really get well informed to know how to exercise long-term and protect your pelvic floor. Nicky I have an article here on pelvic floor safe cycling that will help you more and answer your questions – cycling is a great low impact exercise and it will help if you understand the key points in this article for minimising pressure on your repair. Hope this helps Nicky
      All the best
      Michelle

  20. Also forgot to ask, is it safe to walk up steep hills at a brisk pace? Or on a treadmill at full incline brisk walk? I use to find this really good for weight loss.

    Thanks,
    Nicky

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Nicky it’s usually the high impact walking down hills that is the issue for prolapse management. Once again be mindful of keeping impact low to reduce the risk of strain.