Too much of the wrong type of exercise can worsen your acid reflux. The key to finding your own acid reflux exercise cure is to follow some sensible and safe guidelines and listen to your body. Exercise keeps you fit and helps prevent heartburn – but what happens when exercise makes it worse? You must be wondering why doctors and fitness experts urge you to implement an exercise routine in the first place!
Not every kind of exercise is suitable for everyone. We’ll provide you with some easy tips that will set you up for success and help you discover which exercises are right for you.
Before we look at which exercises will do you good and which will worsen your heartburn, we need to look at what causes heartburn.
Acid reflux and heartburn
Let’s quickly revise what we know about acid reflux and heartburn. Food moves down our esophagus (food tube) and into our stomach when we eat or drink. Then, food mixes with stomach acid to help digest it. For people with heartburn, stomach acid refuses to stay in your stomach and reflux back into your esophagus. Add a weak esophageal sphincter (the valve that is supposed to stop food from moving from your stomach back into your esophagus), and you have heartburn!
So, acid reflux is when your stomach acid moves from your stomach back into your esophagus. And heartburn is the burning sensation you feel in your chest due to acid reflux.
Why exercise gives you acid reflux
When you exercise, or put your body through any strenuous activity, it agitates your stomach acid more. When you jump, run or bend down, it makes it easy for your stomach acid to pass into the esophagus.
So if you indulge in these types of activities, your acid reflux and heartburn could get worse.
Your personal acid reflux exercise cure starts here
The best way to cure your acid reflux when exercising is to set yourself up for success. Start by working out what triggers your acid reflux and put some preventative measures in place.
Acid reflux and exercise
While it’s true that you might have to avoid certain kinds of exercise with acid reflux, it doesn’t mean you should stop exercise altogether. In fact, exercising is mandatory because —
- Exercise can reduce excess body fat or help you maintain a healthy weight. Excess body fat around your mid-section causes pressure to build up in your stomach. And this contributes to your acid reflux and heartburn symptoms.
- Regular exercise strengthens your immune system. Research shows that the bacteria, helicobacter pylori, can make your heartburn worse. But, exercising regularly can keep this bacteria at bay and fight inflammation which contributes to your heartburn.
Tips for a successful acid reflux exercise cure
- Allow at least 2 hours between eating and exercise
- Eat small meals frequently.
- Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly before swallowing.
- Avoid your food triggers and stay away from rich, heavy food.
- Caffeine (including your favorite coffee) and carbonated drinks are usually major causes of acid reflux
- Good posture is important at all times, not just when you work out.
- High-intensity exercise cause blood to move away from your digestive system and toward larger muscle groups. This slows down digestion and may trigger acid reflux.
- Heavy lifting and bending over puts pressure on your stomach area and causes acid to reflux into your esophagus.
- Avoid smoking
- Take OTC medication for acid reflux prior to exercising if you need it.
If you still get acid reflux when exercising, despite taking the precautions described above, consider seeking medical advice.
Best exercise for acid reflux
Low impact and lower intensity workouts are the key to your acid reflux exercise cure. You’re best choices for exercises those where you are mostly upright and not bending over at your waist. Avoid exercises where your stomach is higher than your esophagus.
Figure out which activities make your heartburn worse and either stay away from them or modify them. For example, yoga usually involves a lot of lying down and bending over. Yoga is, in fact, a good exercise for acid reflux, you just need to do the right type of exercises.
The following list is not exhaustive but should give you some ideas. Depending on the severity of your acid reflux, some of the activities listed below may not be suitable for you. If you keep your exercises simple and fun, you’re more likely to stick with your plan.
- walking or easy hiking
- physiotherapy breathing exercises (see below)
- yoga – try this short yoga class for acid reflux
- stationary exercises on an elliptical trainer or stationary bike
- light jogging
Breathing exercises for acid reflux
Whatever workout plan you make up for yourself, please include breathing exercises for acid reflux. These exercises are part of my acid reflux exercise cure and are scientifically proven to reduce heartburn, acid reflux and the need for antacid medication.
Worst exercise for acid reflux
High impact and high intensity activities are the worst exercises for acid reflux. Try to stay away from the following types of activities:
- running and jogging
- jumping rope
- road cycling
- lifting weights
Your acid reflux exercise cure
Once you have implemented an exercise routine that is right for you, you will get better results not just weight-wise, but your digestion will also improve. This in turn will help fix your acid reflux, bringing you long term relief from heartburn. A healthy exercise routine coupled with good lifestyle choices go a long way in finding you acid reflux exercise cure and improving your overall health.