A whopping 60% of the population experiences acid reflux symptoms each year, and up to 30% experience it weekly. While it may seem that exercise will agitate the stomach and worsen acid reflux symptoms, studies are finding that moderate exercise is actually helpful for preventing symptoms. The key is finding the best time to exercise and taking the right precautions so that heartburn won’t keep you from feeling the burn.
Waiting at least two hours before exercising will allow your body to undergo the five steps of digestion needed to thoroughly process food. Jumping the gun will only slow your digestive system down further and force undigested food and acid back up into the esophagus. Choose a small, healthy snack before a workout if you need a little energy boost.
Exercise is not the enemy if you want to avoid heartburn or acid reflux. In fact, maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your chances of experiencing heartburn all together. Stick to moderate exercise that isn’t strenuous and won’t bring acid up from the stomach. This could include walking, hiking, cycling, yoga (excluding inversions) and light weightlifting.
Gastroenterology journals are now agreeing that vigorous exercise “may alter esophageal motility and worsen symptoms of the upper gastrointestinal tract.” Therefore, avoid exercise that may be too stimulating or straining, like aerobics, running, heavy weight lifting and abdominal crunches. Be sure to also avoid yoga positions that involve being inverted, like a headstand or downward dog.