Working Out and Reflux: Cause and Effect
When you have GERD, the circular muscle or sphincter between your stomach and esophagus is weakened, allowing acid to escape up into the esophagus. This causes people to experience heartburn, reflux of digestive fluids, and possibly after extended periods, severe problems such as Barrett’s Esophagus and esophageal cancer. If you’ve been diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), chances are you will have to alter your exercise routine to make sure that you are not aggravating your condition.
When Exercises Cause Heartburn
If you are a fan of vigorous exercise, you may need to reduce the intensity of your workouts. Activities like running, weight-lifting and sports like basketball can make GERD worse. This is because of the intense pressure that these types of vigorous activities can put on your stomach and esophagus.
Think about the way doing sit-ups contracts your stomach, or how doing yoga poses with your head near your ankles puts your esophagus upside down. These types of activities are a recipe for pain if you suffer from GERD. To reduce heartburn, stay right-ways-up, don’t put too much pressure on your stomach and leave the vigorous training for after your GERD surgery when you are heartburn free.
Try switching to lower impact activities like walking, biking, or swimming, as these are activities that will not put excess pressure on your stomach or esophageal sphincter. You should also switch from reflux-inducing sports drinks to water, which can quench your thirst without bringing on heartburn.
Exercise to Reduce Heartburn
At the other end of the spectrum, being sedentary often isn’t going to help your heartburn either. In fact, lacking exercise leads to weight gain, which can cause more pressure to build on your stomach and put you at a greater risk for developing heartburn. Getting active and losing those excess pounds can help you get relief from your GERD symptoms. Even light activity like walking can help. Aim for thirty minutes of activity five times a week.
When you are working out, make sure that the clothing that you wear is not making your GERD worse. Items of clothing that are too tight and put too much pressure on your abdomen can bring on heartburn and other GERD symptoms. Wear loose, comfortable, breathable clothing to avoid aggravating your GERD.
Maintaining a healthy level of physical activity, watching what you eat and other simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference in managing your GERD.