Acid reflux is the regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation known as heartburn. Some activities may worsen acid reflux, including exercise.

Some people find that exercise may exacerbate their acid reflux symptoms, while others find it helps ease them. Intense exercises may trigger acid reflux symptoms more than moderate exercises.

This article will explore the link between acid reflux and exercise and whether it improves or worsens symptoms. It will also detail exercises that may help the condition overall, alongside general treatment.

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In many ways, exercise can improve acid reflux, particularly for people who have or are at risk of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which refers to acid reflux repeatedly occurring. Ways that exercise can aid acid reflux or GERD include:

  • Aiding weight management: Obesity can be a cause of acid reflux and GERD. Managing weight with exercise can lessen GERD symptoms significantly.
  • Decrease the likelihood of developing the condition in the first place: An older study of 2,146 participants indicated a decrease in GERD risk among individuals who engaged in frequent physical activity.

However, exercise may also worsen acid reflux or GERD, including:

  • Aggravating symptoms: During a flare, exercises that include bending over can worsen symptoms. Stomach crunches, abdominal presses, lifting heavy weights, and other high impact exercises could also be triggers.
  • Eating before a workout: While exercise on its own might not worsen acid reflux, eating right before physical activity might trigger a flare. People who frequently or infrequently experience acid reflux need to potentially try to wait a few hours after eating before exercising.

Learn more about acid reflux.

People can exercise when they have acid reflux. For people with a GERD diagnosis, there is older evidence that suggests that regular exercising regularly, for at least 30 minutes, three times weekly, helps alleviate symptoms.

If someone is experiencing an acid reflux flare, it is potentially advisable to stick to low impact exercises.

Low impact exercises may include:

  • walking
  • jogging
  • stretching
  • swimming

Learn more about GERD.

Generally, the risk of acid reflux may reduce by taking part in exercise. However, intensely exercising may cause acid reflux symptoms to worsen, particularly during a flare.

If someone experiences a flare, they need to avoid high intensity workouts, such as:

  • running or sprinting
  • high intensity weight training
  • gymnastics

If they also have concerns about the regularity of their flare-ups, they need to contact a doctor.

There are numerous treatments available for people who experience acid reflux:

  • Dietary changes: Dietary changes, such as drinking less alcohol, avoiding excessive amounts of high fat foods, and cutting down on caffeine, could help improve acid reflux symptoms.
  • Over-the-counter medication: Standard medication for acid reflux includes H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors because they are powerful antacids.
  • Lifestyle changes: Stress contributes to acid reflux and GERD, according to older sources. Making a conscious effort to avoid stressful situations may help alleviate symptoms or avoid recurrences. While understandably difficult for many individuals, practices such as yoga, even just once per week or fortnight, could be beneficial in reducing stress.

Researchers have found that low impact exercise helps with acid reflux. Additionally, maintaining a moderate weight, making lifestyle changes, and taking certain medications can help ease the symptoms and long-term effects of acid reflux.

If someone experiences recurrent bouts of heartburn, it is advisable to contact a medical practitioner.