Exercises for Stress Urinary Incontinence

by Jennifer Upton

Anyone who leaks when they cough or laugh knows how frustrating it is to live with Stress Urinary Incontinence.

It’s a condition that affects everything from work to play, parenting to running everyday errands.

(For information on other types of urinary incontinence, see The Truth about Urinary Incontinence and Menopause.)

One of the main treatments recommended by urologists is exercise, not only to lose weight, but to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.


Among the types of treatment for Stress Urinary Incontinence, exercise is the one where the sufferer has the greatest control as it requires no doctor appointments, products or other medication.

(See also Living with Stress Urinary Incontinence During Menopause.)

Daily pelvic floor exercises might help your pelvic floor muscles to regain their strength and function normally.

All of the exercises discussed here can be done at home or at the gym although it is always recommended to seek the advice of a physician before embarking on a new form of exercise, especially for people with other conditions.


There are 3 main types of exercise that may help with Stress Urinary Incontinence.

  • Kegels
  • Yoga
  • Pilates


Kegels are a well-known type of exercise that can benefit those who suffer from weak pelvic floor muscles.

The best part about Kegels is that you can do them at work or while sitting at a desk or standing and no one will know!

How to do Kegels:

Your pelvic floor muscles are tensed and then released during this activity.

Five seconds of muscle contraction is followed by five seconds of muscle relaxation.

To give your muscles a chance to recover between squeezes, be sure to take some time to unwind.

Each contraction and release represents one repetition.

Ideally, ten repetitions in each of three different positions—lying down, sitting, and standing— should be included in each set of exercises.

Make two sets: one in the morning and one at night (or at least twice a day.)


There are many different styles of Yoga including Hatha, Bikram and Kundalini.

No matter what style you choose, there will be several poses that serve to strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles.

There are several poses used in almost all the different Yoga styles including:

The Bridge Pose

  • Step 1: With your feet flat on the ground and hip distance apart, lie on your back and bend both knees.
  • Step 2: With the palms downward, slid the arms alongside the body. The heels should be lightly touched with the fingertips.
  • Step 3: Plant your feet firmly on the ground and exhale as you lift your hips and twist your spine off the ground. To keep the knees at hip distance apart, gently squeeze them together.
  • Step 4: Squeeze the shoulders and arms together to elevate the chest. To raise the hips higher, engage the legs and buttocks.
  • Step 5: Take 4–8 breaths and hold them.
  • Step 6: Let go, exhale and lower your spine to the ground slowly. Repeat 3 times.


Whether you choose to join an online or in-person Pilates class, Pilates teaches you how to activate and strengthen your pelvic floor during each and every class.

When performing exercises, Pilates trains you to contract your pelvic floor muscles, which can improve your Stress Urinary Incontinence symptoms in several ways.

The first is by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles similar to Kegels.

Try these quick Pilates exercises that you can do in the convenience of your home.

Exercise 1

  • Step 1: Lie on your back in a comfortable posture, making sure your back is flat on the floor.
  • Step 2: Raise your feet to the ceiling. Keep your shins parallel to the ground by bending your knees.
  • Step 3: With your left leg still in place, extend your right leg to the right side.
  • Step 4: Put your right leg back in its starting position.
  • Step 5: Repeat the motion with the left leg
  • Step 6: Repeat this pattern 8 times, once for each side.

Pilates can also improve your condition by strengthening your core.

Your pelvic floor will get stronger as a result of strengthening your core, and this will help the muscles that control your bladder and any leaks.

Exercise 2

  • Step 1: Stand with your toes turned out 45 degrees and your feet somewhat wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Step 2: Slowly inhale as you bend your knees, sending your butt back and down,
  • Step 3: Elevate your arms overhead, and keep your chest high, core braced, pelvic floor engaged, and back flat.
  • Step 4: When your thighs are parallel to the ground, stoop down.
  • Step 5: Three breaths should be held at the bottom of the squat before rising back to standing. Step 6: Perform 5–10 reps


It’s easy to feel defeated when you have Stress Urinary Incontinence.

The important thing to remember is that it takes time to see results with any new type of exercise.

Don’t give up!

According to the NHS, “After a few months, you should start to notice results. You should keep doing the exercises, even when you notice they’re starting to work.”

Additionally, you may begin to feel a greater sense of calm and overall improvements in your health.

Treat the time you perform your exercises as “me time.”

A time of self-care to start you on the path to a better life with Stress Urinary Incontinence.

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  • The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

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