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Best exercises for people with acid reflux

A lot of people who suffer from acid reflux or heart burn will be told to exercise and if necessary, loose weight. Although both are a great way to combat symptoms, acid reflux after exercise can also occur, triggering a flare-up or causing a flare-up to increase in severity. So, the question is – how can you relieve acid reflux when the best exercise for acid reflux can cause acid reflux, whilst not exercising regularly can also cause acid reflux?

Woman walking up some steps

What is acid reflux?

Heartburn or acid reflux is the feeling of a burning sensation located in the chest. Acid travelling from the stomach upwards towards the throat causes this sensation. When this is experienced regularly, it’s called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD for short. Some of the main symptoms include:

  • Burning sensation in the middle of the chest
  • A sour, unpleasant taste in the mouth

Symptoms of GORD reportedly get worse after eating, lying down or when bending over. Other, less frequent symptoms can occur including:

  • Hiccups or a cough that keeps coming back
  • Hoarse voice
  • Bad breath
  • Feeling bloated or sick

What causes acid reflux?

A lot of people will experience acid reflux at least once during their lifetime. For the most part, what causes acid reflux is the food we eat. Fried or greasy foods, high fat meats and whole milk dairy products can cause the valve responsible for keeping acid in the stomach at bay, to relax. Caffeinated drinks, coffee, alcohol and spicy foods can all stimulate excess acid production. Large meals, lying down immediately after eating or snacking before bedtime are also common triggers.

People who are overweight will also be more likely to suffer from acid reflux. Excess weight can cause the valve in the stomach to be forcibly opened.

Acid reflux can also be caused or made worse by:

  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress and anxiety
  • An increase in some types of hormones, such as progesterone and oestrogen
  • Some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers (like ibuprofen)
  • A hiatus hernia – when part of the stomach moves up into the chest
Coffee beans

Acid reflux treatment

Simple changes to lifestyle and diet can be an extremely effective acid reflux treatment. Medicines that can be purchased without a prescription can also be effective acid reflux treatment.

When it comes to eating and drinking, try to sit down, chew well and take your time eating instead of gobbling it all down at once. Try to replace spices with herbs, and try to include cooked vegetables, yogurt, lean meats and fish into your diet.

Citrus fruits like oranges can be too acidic when a flare-up happens, but fruits like pears, apples, peaches and bananas can be easier on the stomach. Excess alcohol consumption is also a trigger for acid reflux.

In terms of acid reflux treatment that are medicines, reflux suppressants can be bought from the majority of retail stores and pharmacies. Reflux suppressants form a protective layer on top of any stomach contents. The layer prevents reflux and keeps the stomach contents away from the lining of the food pipe.

On the other hand, prescription only medication is available if you have spoken to your doctor about how to get rid of acid reflux when general sales medicines haven’t helped. Prescription only acid reflux tablets called ‘proton pump inhibitors’ can help reduce the amount of acid the stomach creates. Acid reflux tablets like these are only used for short-term treatment in adults. Speak to a doctor or pharmacist if you want to know how to get rid of acid reflux. Observing your symptoms, they’ll be able to recommend the most suitable acid reflux treatment options.

The benefits of exercise

The benefits of exercise and the resulting weight loss has been well documented for centuries.

So, does exercise help acid reflux? One of lesser-known benefits of exercise and weight loss is its ability to stop the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.

Losing weight and reducing your body mass index will help relieve abdominal pressure, a major cause of acid reflux. Lowering your BMI will reduce abdominal pressure and keep the acid from travelling upwards.

There is no set best exercise for acid reflux, but one of the best ways to prevent it is to lose weight and keep the heart as healthy as possible. To achieve both of these goals the best exercise for acid reflux is low impact training.

If you enjoy cardio, a gentle run or cycling can help raise heart rate and effectively burn fat. It can also be beneficial to use a stationary bike or a running machine to additionally avoid the impact from the pavement or wobble from a bike.

Walking is also one of the best exercise for acid reflux. A brisk walk after a meal can aid digestion and reduce the chances of acid reflux appearing later on in the evening.

The answer to does exercise help acid reflux is, yes. But this is only one side of the coin, and you still may experience acid reflux exercise if the type of exercise is wrong…

Man running in the streets

The disadvantages of exercise

When it comes to acid reflux, there are correct and incorrect ways to exercise. Experiencing acid reflux after exercise likely means you are doing exercises that aggravate the condition.

Exercise that requires laying flat or vigorously moving around can cause acid reflux after exercise. These types of exercise can cause acid to rise up from the stomach and trigger heartburn.

Any exercise that also requires an increase in abdominal pressure, such as heavy lifting, stomach crunches, or high impact workouts, can also trigger reflux.

Although it is important to remain well hydrated during exercise, drinking too quickly can also have a negative impact on chronic acid reflux.

However, sports and energy drinks should be avoided. This type of drink is jampacked full of sugar and caffeine, both of which worsen heartburn and cause acid reflux to occur.

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