Heartburn and exercise? Is exercise a trigger?

Are you looking for an excuse to skip your next workout? Do you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux?

Heartburn and acid reflux can be agitated or even caused by certain types of workout regimes. Any body positions that include bending over increases pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that normally keeps stomach acids in the stomach. These positions can potentially increases reflux of stomach acids into the esophagus. Not only bending over, but also consider any exercises that work the abdominal muscles as potential contributors to aggravating your symptoms.

Other activities like certain yoga poses and headstands can also reverse the flow of stomach acids into the esophagus triggering heartburn symptoms.  Bouncing or jarring exercises can also have an effect with people who have an already weakened LES.

It’s important to never exercise on a full stomach as this further increases abdominal pressure, making reflux more likely to occur. It typically takes a couple hours to digest food so you should wait at least two hours to workout after a meal. Another good idea is avoiding any sports drinks that are high in carbohydrates. Choosing the right types of less intense exercise and keeping to a consistent routine can actually help to reduce the risk of acid reflux.

Types of exercise that can be the largest triggers to heartburn symptoms:

1.    Running

Running may affect Acid Reflux | GERD | HeartburnHeartburn symptoms can easily be triggered by running because of the jarring and bouncing of the body. While running and right after, the stomach and abdominal area has been bounced around quite a bit, potentially causing the stomach’s contents to back up into the esophagus. Choosing a comparable, but less jarring workout, such as riding on a stationary bicycle, may help to prevent this.

2. Aerobics

Aerobics can effect heartburn | Acid Reflux | GERDJust like running, an aerobics can be very jarring to the body and lead to heartburn symptoms. Swimming is a great form of aerobic exercise that is easier and less stressful on the body. You could also ride a bike in the summer or go cross-country skiing throughout winter months. Other options include yoga or Pilates, however some of their particular positions may also trigger symptoms. Headstands or the Downward Dog position in yoga may need to be modified to reduce the risk of reflux.


3. Weight Lifting

Weight lifting can effect Acid Reflux | GERD | Heartburn When weightlifting in certain positions can put a tremendous amount of pressure on the abdominal area and the LES, preventing proper function of the already weakened LES. The following types of weight lifting should be avoided or modified during your workout to reduce the potential triggering of heartburn symptoms:•  Lying down on a flat surface, such as with bench presses or leg curls. Instead find an exercise that works your arms and legs but allows you to stand upright or move about freely.•  Exercises like crunches or sit-ups that may scrunch the stomach and LES can cause problems. Instead, try staying upright and working your mid section with twists, or engage in a different, full body exercise routine that is less intensive.

•  Any exercise like headstands or gymnastic type moves that keep you in an upside down position for any length of time may cause reflux and should be avoided when possible.

Bottom line is exercise is good for you however it’s important that you make careful choices with the types of exercises you do if they are triggering symptoms of reflux.  There are many exercise options available to you.

If exercising has triggered your reflux symptoms, there are other lifestyle changes you can also make. Losing weight and sleeping with the head of your bed elevated with a Gravity1st mattress are the most important lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your reflux symptoms.