Sneezing while walking: middle age lessons


The other day I was walking back from my friend Barb’s house. There and back was about 15km. It was lovely, early June, walking weather. I felt great, even with the mild hamstring soreness I’ve been experiencing lately (time to re-focus on strength exercises, specifically my glutes).

Going for long walks is one of my favourite things. Long before Covid, walking has been my preferred mode of transportation, as long I have the time and the right shoes. My husband’s also become an avid walker. He’s a convert to “walking provides endorphins” and tries to get as many steps in as possible, each day, which can be anywhere from 10,000 to 35,000. We love to walk.

Going back to my return walk from Barb’s, this is when I discovered why it might be time to change my style of underwear… For as long as I can remember, I’ve been wearing lacy ones, the kind that don’t have much to them. They fit fine. I think they still look cute. At 49, I’m no stranger to feeling a sneeze coming on, particularly while walking, and engaging my pelvic floor muscles to prevent a mishap. Well, on this day, the mishap was not to be avoided. And my flimsy, lacy undies, under my sporty summer dress, were not enough of a barrier to stop a small trickle down my leg. UGH.

A pop art style picture of a woman in a purple top, red lipstick, blue eyes open wide and the caption “OOPS!”

Thankfully, it was warm, which means it dried quickly. And, I was on my way home, where my plans were to immerse myself in a hot bath and read my book (Crying at the H Mart, a very well-written book about the author losing her Mom to cancer prematurely). No one was around. If I had not mentioned it here, no one would know it happened! It did get me thinking that maybe I should be wearing better protection when wearing a dress in the summer! Other people could be around the next time it happened and that would be quite embarrassing.

I guess this is one of those things one learns from experience. I guess, in addition to doing “reverse kegels” for pelvic floor health, I should be doing more regular kegels. Perhaps, I haven’t been paying enough attention to my pelvic floor after all.

I’m also going to try out some new underwear. Maybe some sportier ones that aren’t too much bigger but more of a barrier. I understand now why Knix have leakproof options (not just for periods!).

If anyone has any suggestions, particularly for strength exercises that might help, now’s the time to send them my way!

Nicole P. lives in Toronto with her husband and two dogs. She loves to run, do strength workouts, walk (but without mishaps).

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