Are you unsure about choosing the best exercise for weight loss with prolapse or after prolapse surgery?
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
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 |
|Low Impact Exercise|
|16||Road cycling (fast racing >20mph)|
|11.0||Swimming freestyle (fast/vigorous effort)|
|9||Stair treadmill ergometer machine|
|7.0||Stationary bike (moderate effort 100 Watts)|
|7.0||Swimming freestyle (slow to moderate effort)|
|7.0||Stationary rowing (moderate effort 100 Watts)|
|7.0||Cross country skiiing (slow/light effort 2.5mph or 4km/h)|
|6.0||Hiking cross country|
|5||Low impact aerobics|
|4.5||Dancing (disco folk square, fast ballroom)|
|4.5||Golf (walking not pulling clubs)|
|3.8||Brisk walking firm surface (3.5 mph or 5.6 km/h)|
|3.5||Stationary rowing light effort (50 Watts)|
|3.3||Moderate 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 floor 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!
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
|Low Impact Exercise|
|3.5||Golf (power cart)|
|3.0||Weight lifting (light to moderate effort)|
|2.5||Walking slow (2.0 mph or 3.22 km/h)|
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.
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.
ABOUT 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.