From changing your sleeping position to adapting your diet, it’s a known fact that lifestyle changes can significantly reduce acid reflux symptoms.
With symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion, acid reflux and GERD sufferers are pretty keen on trying any and all suggestions to minimize flare-ups.
One recommendation to naturally reduce acid reflux is to begin or increase your weekly exercise regimen.
If you’re someone who’s always been an exercise fan–whether it be going to a local yoga class twice a week or swimming laps at the gym every morning–that’s great.
However, if you don’t currently have an enthusiasm for exercising, it’s understandable that you would be a bit more hesitant to dive into fitness.
In this post, we’ll provide you with an overview for why and how exercise can help reduce acid reflux symptoms along with what types of exercise you should try to lessen your symptoms.
Once you’re equipped with this knowledge, it’s easier to feel more motivated to prioritize fitness in your life.
Read on to find out more!
Why Exercise Is Important in Decreasing Acid Reflux
Of course, exercise is a beneficial lifestyle factor in the lives of everyone–whether they have acid reflux or not.
The reasons that exercise is particularly important for GERD sufferers have to do with the affect that weight can have on the lower esophageal sphincter, also known as the LES.
Weight puts pressure on the LES, which prevents it from opening and closing at a fast enough rate.
If the LES functions at a slower pace, acid is more likely to pass through the LES and travel back up through the esophagus–creating the dreaded symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.
Therefore, obesity is a common factor when it comes to GERD–but you don’t need to be obese for there to be an effect.
Researchers in one study found that, “even in subjects with normal body weight, the risk of heartburn increased with weight gain despite the fact that the body mass index remained in the normal range.”
The researchers also determined that simply losing 10 to 15 pounds can reduce heartburn by 40 percent.
Types of Exercise That Reduce GERD Symptoms
Feeling motivated to become more active yet intimidated by the prospect of exercise?
No need to feel as if you need to immediately transform into a fitness junkie that can drop and do 50 pushups on command.
Taking baby steps will ensure that your fitness routine will become a sustainable practice and routine in your lifestyle.
For example, the best kinds of exercise to reduce acid reflux include…
- Tai chi
- Light jogging
- Water aerobics and swimming
- Stationary cycling
- Upright yoga poses
In addition to helping you burn calories and lose weight, these exercises boost your immune system.
This is key because a healthy immune system works to rid your body of bacteria–including bacteria in your digestive system.
In particular, H. pylori (HP) is bacteria that, according to Sepalika, can be found in the lining of your stomach and affects approximately 66% of adults.
A study published in The Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons found that “significant evidence suggests the potential role of HP infection in the development of GERD.”
It’s also important to note that there are several exercises that can actually worsen acid reflux. These include…
- Vigorous aerobic exercise, such as running and heavy cycling.
- Weight lifting, since it often puts internal pressure within your abdomen and can affect your LES.
- Anything that involves lying flat or bending down, since the pull of gravity can affect your LES and cause more heartburn and indigestion. This can include certain Pilates or yoga poses, as well as surfing. In fact, according to a study in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, acid reflux was “significantly higher” in surfers versus non-surfers at a ratio of 28% to 7%.
Remember, don’t expect yourself to immediately become a pro at any type of exercise you try. Take it one step at a time.
If you make it a sustainable practice over time, you’ll begin to see how exercise can reduce acid reflux.
That said, exercise isn’t the only lifestyle modification needed to reduce acid reflux.