A Balanced Approach to Exercise with Acid Reflux
Experiencing acid reflux and esophageal spasms is no picnic. Anyone who has felt the scorch of heartburn does not look forward to its return. To help control acid reflux and reduce the risk of heartburn, there are many natural techniques sufferers can try such as watching their diet, and managing their weight. When it comes to managing weight, exercise plays an important role. Unfortunately, some exercises can actually cause acid reflux.
Exercise does not commonly cause heartburn, but for those who suffer from chronic acid reflux, heartburn may occur, especially when engaging in high-impact and jarring exercises such as jogging, or for athletes who take part in an intense fitness regimen. Furthermore, stomach exercises also seem to cause acid reflux in certain people.
It appears that symptoms of GERD that are induced by exercise occur due to the excessive contraction of stomach muscles. Some exercises cause stomach acid to travel back towards the esophagus, which tends to result in heartburn, shortly after exercises have been completed.
Even though there is a risk that you may experience heartburn either during or after you perform certain exercises, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t exercise. In fact, there are many ways you can prevent exercise-induced heartburn. The following are some suggestions.
Eat sensibly before exercising – Eat foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. Avoid foods such as caffeinated beverages, spicy and fatty foods, chocolate and citrus juice; foods that dramatically increase the risk of acid reflux.
Avoid exercising directly after eating – Wait 1-2 hours after you have eaten before engaging in exercise. Exercising on a full stomach puts pressure on the sphincter and increases the chance of acid reflux occurring. The sphincter is the circle of muscles between the stomach and the esophagus.
Drink water – Drink (do not gulp) plenty of water while you are working out to keep yourself well hydrated and to aid digestion. As a guide, drink 8 oz. of cool water 30 minutes prior to exercise, and sip 16 oz. of cool water every 15 minutes while exercising. Finally, drink about 24 oz of water when you are finished. Note: the amount of water you drink may change based on the intensity and length of your exercise.
Tone-down your exercise level – Instead of engaging in activities that require a lot of jiggling or bouncing such as jogging, or high impact aerobics (IE. jumping jacks, step-aerobics, sit-ups, etc.) – which increase the risk of acid reflux – take part in walking, cycling and swimming exercises.
Take medication – If you suffer from chronic heartburn and take medication for your condition, such as over-the-counter H2 blocker (Pepcid, Zantac, etc.) or prescription medication, talk to your doctor about taking meds before exercising if you frequently experience heartburn during exercises.
Don’t forget to talk with your doctor!
If you find that exercise is causing you heartburn, make sure you speak with your doctor before you begin taking medication. Ask your doctor to recommend exercises that will cause less discomfort. If you are unable to find new ways to exercise without causing heartburn, taking medication may be the best solution.
Finally, make sure you don’t ignore your body. If you experience pain in your chest when exercising, don’t ignore the pain and brush it aside thinking it to be only heartburn. Pain in your chest may actually be a symptom of a real heart problem. Always have chest pain checked out by your doctor.
Remember, the risk of exercise-induced heartburn isn’t an excuse not to exercise. Think about it this way. Better you exercise and take the chances of suffering heartburn which can be treated with medications, than not exercise and increase your risk of heart attack and a slew of other health problems.