9 Tips for Exercising With Acid Reflux
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. | Sept 27, 2012 March 15, 2018
People who live with acid reflux disease or even occasional heartburn may experience worsened symptoms during physical activity. Here’s what you should know about working out when you have acid reflux. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting any kind of fitness regimen.
Physical activity increases reflux
Unfortunately, this is the plight of people with reflux. Different studies have confirmed that vigorous physical activity will stir up acid in the stomach and cause it to spill into the esophagus. Acid reflux symptoms can increase with the intensity of the exercise and are more common with endurance sports. Symptoms can also get worse with activities that happen after eating.
Choose your activities wisely
Activities that are jarring to the body such as jogging and contact sports may result in worsened symptoms. Lower-impact activities such as yoga, swimming and walking may be better choices, especially on days when your reflux symptoms are at their worst.
A high BMI increases reflux symptoms
A person’s body mass index (BMI) is calculated using weight and height and is used to determine if a person is overweight, obese, or of a normal weight. According to one study, a person with a high BMI runs a higher risk of developing acid reflux symptoms during a workout.
Avoid eating before exercise
Large meals (or even medium-size meals) before exercise will most likely result in acid reflux. If you need to eat before a workout, make it a small snack, like a protein bar or banana. These homemade bars are reflux-friendly and freeze well.
Keep water on hand
Having access to water during a workout can be extremely helpful for cooling and hydration. And if you have reflux, water can also help to cleanse the esophagus and may even help relieve symptoms if they do arise.
Find a treatment that works for you
To avoid acid reflux during exercise, you must find a way to avoid acid reflux at rest. Talk to your doctor about treatment options for your acid reflux and understand how to apply that treatment to improve your exercise regimen. For example, I eat an early breakfast, take my reflux medication, and then exercise about an hour later. This seems to work well for me.
Write it down
A good way to develop a workout routine free from acid reflux is to take notes of how different workouts and medications affect you. Record the workouts that you do, any medications you take and when, and what you ate before the activity. Also record how you felt during the workout. You may begin to see a pattern of what works best for you.
Be prepared to adjust your workouts as reflux symptoms present themselves. Even if you have been a life-long runner or skier, once reflux symptoms arise, adjustments must be made to protect your health. Be prepared to work with your doctor to find an alternate way to work out.
Find what works and stay with it
Once you’ve found a workout routine that provides the physical activity you need without aggravating your reflux symptoms, stay with it! People with a high body mass index tend to experience worsened acid reflux symptoms, so staying fit will help keep reflux symptoms at bay. Consistent physical activity is absolutely paramount to optimal health.