Is your catheter use cramping your style? Lack of freedom is a common complaint for patients who live with a urinary catheter. Your schedule likely revolves around relieving your bladder, leaving very little room for the lifestyle you love – especially if that lifestyle is full of activities and adventure.

Believe it or not, catheter use doesn’t have to control you. By making a few changes to the way you play, you can live an active lifestyle and stay on top of your urinary health. Here’s how:

Find the right form of exercise. Catheter use can make certain types of exercise a challenge, especially if you use an indwelling catheter. Running, cycling, and swimming are great forms of cardiovascular exercise, but they can also cause uncomfortable pulling that makes those miles pretty miserable. If comfort is a concern, consider less vigorous forms of exercise such as walking, yoga, or rowing.

Stay hydrated. Proper hydration is especially important for those living with a urinary catheter. Drinking plenty of water may lead to increased urination, but it also prevents infections and blockages that put your health and safety at risk. Aim to drink at least 2-3 liters of water per day; you want your urine to flow regularly and be pale in color.

Prepare to pack. Living with a catheter doesn’t mean you have to wave goodbye to wanderlust – it just takes some extra preparation. If you plan to travel, be sure to pack plenty of extras so you aren’t scrambling for supplies (you should never assume you’ll find them at your destination). If needed, your doctor can supply a note advising security personnel that you’ll be traveling with approved medical supplies.

Practice good hygiene. Nothing puts a damper on your plans like a painful UTI. Be sure to keep your catheter clean and practice good hygiene to keep yourself in peak performance. You should always wash your hands with soap and water before and after touching your catheter equipment.

Consider Intermittent Catheters. If your condition (and your physician) allows, an intermittent catheter may make it easier to live the active lifestyle you love. These temporary catheters are designed to be used once and then discarded, as opposed to indwelling catheters that are designed to stay in place. This allows a greater flexibility of movement, allowing you to run, cycle, swim, and more without fussing with a drain line or collection bag.