Over the years, we’ve profiled many of our favorite tubies and their stories. One of them is George, a retired firefighter in his 80s. George doesn’t let his age — or a feeding tube — keep him from enjoying an active lifestyle. He gardens, swims, takes his family for rides on his boat and is a busy handyman at home.
Then there’s Kendall, a young lady who fell in love with ice skating. By age 8, she won the Ice Skating Institute’s World Championship for her category. A California girl, Kendall loves swimming in water as much as she loves skating on ice. That includes going down water slides!
Whether you’re 8 or 80, you can enjoy active living with a feeding tube
There are many people like George and Kendall — adults and children of all ages who enjoy a vibrant lifestyle. They’re proof that you or a loved one can live with a feeding tube and still be active. Sure, you’ll need to be more cautious and, in most cases, take steps to protect your tube or stoma site. But physical activity can be part of your life.
Once your stoma heals, you should be able to get safely back to activities like walking or running. When it comes to exercises that use your stomach muscles, such as yoga or pilates, talk with your doctor first. You may still be able to do them, but you’ll want to be sure your tube stays in place and your stoma isn’t irritated.1
Be wary of contact sports like football or baseball. These are sports where you’re likely to run into other players or a ball, or land roughly. It’s best to avoid those activities because they can dislodge a tube or harm a stoma site.2
Get in the swim of things
Swimming is a great way to stay active and fit. Give it a go if your stoma site has healed and you’re sure the water is clean. Also, keep these tips in mind based on the type of tube you have.
Nasal feeding tubes
- With NG or NJ tubes, be sure the tube is closed, clamped and not hooked to a pump.3
- Secure long tubes or NG-tubes so they don’t get caught while swimming.
G-tubes, GJ-tubes and J-tubes
You can also swim if you have one of these tubes. Just remember4:
- Check with your care team about when you can submerge your tube and stoma in water.
- Anyone with a stoma that’s less than two months old shouldn’t swim until it’s fully healed.
- Avoid ponds and lakes. These are generally stagnant and at greater risk for pollution, which can lead to water-related illnesses.
- Stay out of hot tubs because hot or warm water can breed unhealthy bacteria.
- People with tracheotomy and laryngectomy stomas cannot swim.
Before you start any exercise plan, be sure to talk with your physician. And don’t forget that because you’re more active, you may need extra water at your feedings to replace what you lose when you exercise.
Staying active with a feeding tube: it’s good for body and mind
Gunnar Esiason, son of NFL great Boomer Esiason, has a feeding tube. He recently commented in his blog about taking part in sports. He said that at first, fear of being limited in what he could do was his biggest concern. But he said he’s been able to run, go to the gym, swim and many other things. He was also quick to say exercise doesn’t mean being an amazing athlete. The main thing is to find an activity you love and stick with it.5
After all, one of the key things is to have fun. It will help you stay active for your health and well-being.
- “How to Stay Active with a Feeding Tube.” TubeFed. Avanos, May 21, 2019. https://tubefed.com/newsletter/how-to-stay-active-with-a-feeding-tube/.
- Esiason, Gunnar. “Monday Morning Thoughts: Finding Exercise in Different Places, Answers to Some Questions About My Feeding Tube.” Gunnar Esiason Blog. Gunnar Esiason, July 30, 2018. http://www.gunnaresiason.com/monday-morning-thoughts-finding-exercise-different-places-answers-questions-feeding-tube/