Moderate physical activity protective against incontinence in women

20 Oct 2021
Moderate physical activity protective against incontinence in women

Women who spend greater time participating in moderate physical activity are at lower risk of developing stress, urge, and mixed incontinence, as suggested in a recent study.

The study examined 30,213 women aged ≥20 years in the 2008–2018 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) cycles. All participants completed questionnaires that determined the presence of urinary incontinence and quantified physical activity.

In the cohort, 23.15 percent of women had stress incontinence, 23.16 percent had urge incontinence, and 8.42 percent had mixed incontinence (answered "yes" to both stress and urge incontinence).

In a weighted, multivariate logistic regression model, moderate recreational activity was associated with a lower likelihood or reporting stress incontinence (odds ratio [OR], 0.79, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.62–0.99) and urge incontinence (OR, 0.66, 95 percent CI, 0.48-0.90).

A similar pattern of association was also noted for moderate work-related activity, with ORs of 0.84 (95 percent CI, 0.70–0.99) for stress incontinence, 0.84 (95 percent CI, 0.72–0.99) for urge incontinence, and 0.66 (95 percent CI, 0.45–0.97) for mixed incontinence.

The beneficial effect of moderate recreational or work-related activity on the risk of incontinence is said to be multifactorial, including improved pelvic floor strength and altered neurophysiological mediators (such as stress) involved in the pathogenesis of incontinence.

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