Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Relationships between perioperative physical activity and urinary incontinence after radical prostatectomy: an observational study

Sean F Mungovan1, Bregtje P Huijbers12, Andrew D Hirschhorn1* and Manish I Patel3

Author Affiliations

1 The Clinical Research Institute, Westmead Private Physiotherapy Services, Sydney, Australia

2 Center for Human Movement Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

3 Urological Cancer Centre and The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Urology 2013, 13:67  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-13-67

Published: 1 December 2013



Higher physical activity levels are continence-protective in non-prostate cancer populations. Primary aims of this study were to investigate changes in physical activity levels over the perioperative period in patients having radical prostatectomy, and relationships between perioperative physical activity levels and post-prostatectomy urinary incontinence.


A prospective analysis of patients having radical prostatectomy and receiving perioperative physiotherapy including pelvic floor muscle training and physical activity prescription (n = 33). Physical activity levels were measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire and/or the SenseWear Pro3 Armband at four timepoints: before preoperative physiotherapy, the week before surgery, and 3 and 6 weeks postoperatively. Urinary incontinence was measured at 3 and 6 weeks postoperatively using a 24-hour pad test and the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire – Urinary Incontinence Short Form (ICIQ).


Physical activity levels changed significantly over the perioperative period (p < 0.001). At 6 weeks postoperatively, physical activity levels did not differ significantly from baseline (p = 0.181), but remained significantly lower than the week before surgery (p = 0.002). There was no significant interaction effect between preoperative physical activity category and time on the 24-hour pad test (p = 0.726) or ICIQ (p = 0.608). Nor were there any significant correlations between physical activity levels and the 24-hour pad test and ICIQ at 3 or 6 weeks postoperatively.


This study provides novel data on perioperative physical activity levels for patients having radical prostatectomy. There was no relationship between perioperative physical activity levels and post-prostatectomy urinary incontinence, although participants had high overall preoperative physical activity levels and low overall urinary incontinence.

Prostatectomy; Urinary incontinence; Exercise; Pelvic floor muscle training