Exercise and Interstitial Cystitis: Safe Workouts to Improve Your Well-being

Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as bladder pain syndrome (BPS), is a chronic condition that causes bladder pain, pressure, and frequent urination. While exercise is essential for overall health and well-being, those with IC/BPS need to approach physical activity with caution to avoid exacerbating symptoms. This article explores safe workout options that can help improve fitness and alleviate some of the discomfort associated with IC/BPS.

Living with interstitial cystitis or bladder pain syndrome can be challenging, especially when it comes to maintaining an active lifestyle. Regular exercise offers numerous benefits, including improved mood, better sleep, and enhanced physical health. However, the physical strain from certain exercises can trigger or worsen IC/BPS symptoms. Finding the right balance and choosing appropriate workouts is crucial for managing this condition effectively.

Benefits of Exercise for IC/BPS

Physical Benefits

Improved Bladder Function

Regular physical activity can help strengthen the muscles around the bladder and pelvic floor, potentially improving bladder control and reducing urgency and frequency.

Reduced Pain

Exercise can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. This can help alleviate some of the chronic pain associated with IC/BPS.

Mental and Emotional Benefits

Stress Reduction

Exercise is a well-known stress reliever. Reducing stress levels is particularly important for individuals with IC/BPS, as stress can exacerbate symptoms.

Enhanced Mood

Physical activity can boost mood by increasing the production of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of well-being and happiness.

Safe Workout Options

Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises


Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can be easily adapted to individual fitness levels. It helps improve cardiovascular health without putting excessive strain on the bladder or pelvic muscles.


Swimming and water aerobics are excellent choices for individuals with IC/BPS. The buoyancy of the water supports the body, reducing impact and pressure on the bladder and pelvic area.


Using a stationary bike or cycling on smooth, flat terrain can provide a good cardiovascular workout with minimal pelvic impact. Ensure the bike seat is comfortable and properly adjusted to avoid additional pressure on the bladder.

Strength Training

Resistance Bands

Incorporating resistance bands into your workout can help strengthen muscles without heavy lifting, which can be too strenuous for those with IC/BPS.

Bodyweight Exercises

Exercises such as squats, lunges, and push-ups can be effective for building strength. Focus on maintaining proper form and avoid overexertion to prevent symptom flare-ups.

Flexibility and Relaxation Exercises


Yoga can be particularly beneficial for individuals with IC/BPS. It promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and improves flexibility and strength. Gentle yoga poses that avoid putting pressure on the bladder or pelvic area are recommended.


Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and controlled movements. Many Pilates exercises can be adapted to avoid discomfort and support bladder health.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises involve tightening and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. These can help improve bladder control and reduce symptoms of urgency and frequency. Consistent practice is key to seeing benefits.

Tips for Exercising with IC/BPS

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to your body’s signals and avoid pushing through pain. If a particular exercise causes discomfort or exacerbates symptoms, modify it or choose a different activity.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can worsen IC/BPS symptoms, so it’s important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks, which can irritate the bladder.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Proper warm-up and cool-down routines can help prevent injury and reduce the likelihood of symptom flare-ups. Gentle stretching before and after exercise is beneficial.

Consult a Healthcare Professional

Before starting any new exercise regimen, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider or physical therapist. They can provide personalized recommendations and ensure that your chosen activities are safe and appropriate for your condition.


Exercise is a vital component of maintaining overall health and well-being, even for those living with interstitial cystitis or bladder pain syndrome. By choosing low-impact, gentle exercises and listening to your body’s needs, you can stay active without exacerbating symptoms. Incorporating activities like walking, swimming, yoga, and strength training into your routine can help manage IC/BPS, improve bladder function, and enhance your quality of life. Always consult with healthcare professionals to tailor an exercise plan that is safe and effective for your specific condition.

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