Credit: Thinkstock According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, excess weight is a risk factor for the development of acid reflux disease, as abdominal fat often puts undo pressure on the stomach, possibly causing reflux symptoms. Maintaining a proper diet and exercise program can be central to reaching optimal control of your acid reflux. Unfortunately, many people I have talked to report that their symptoms are actually worse when they exercise. Check out these tips to prevent bringing on the acid reflux burn when your intention is to simply “feel the burn.”
Before you work out
As always, be sure to consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. Once you have been cleared to work out:
1. Take your medications as scheduled. Non-compliance is a leading cause for breakthrough acid reflux pain.
2. Talk with your physician to see if there is a quick-acting medication, like an antacid, that you can carry with you in case of breakthrough pain.
3. Wait at least two hours after eating before working out, or work out on an empty stomach. This helps prevent undigested food from splashing upward into the esophagus while you exercise.
During your workout
4. Ease into the workout to allow your body time to adjust to the regimen.
5. Sip (don’t guzzle) water throughout your workout. This will keep you hydrated without overfilling your stomach.
6. Avoid inverted yoga poses or exercises that put extreme pressure on the abdomen (like traditional sit ups) and try alternatives like these pull up bar abdominal exercises, instead.
7. If you experience chest pain or exacerbation of acid reflux symptoms, discuss them with your physician immediately.
After your workout
8. Cool down after working out to help prevent injury.
9. Continue to hydrate as needed depending on the amount, intensity, and length of your workout.
10. After you have cooled down, eat a small snack containing a good mix of protein and carbs — like Greek yogurt with fruit or a banana with nut butter (almond or peanut).
Again, if you experience any increase in acid reflux, GI symptoms, or chest pain, please consult your doctor right away. Remember: not all chest pain is acid reflux-related, and many people mistake heart attack symptoms for acid reflux. Be safe, not sorry, and have any chest pain promptly evaluated by a physician.
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Jennifer has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics and has done as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves on the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).