For those who suffer from heartburn, an important part of managing the pain is maintaining a healthy weight. A great way to achieve this is through regular exercise Every day, researchers uncover new ways that fitness can benefit people of all ages. In the past year, an Australian study found that walking can significantly improve memory problems; Swedish researchers found that men who exercise are less likely to die from cancer; and in Brazil, a link between moderate aerobic exercise and improved quality of sleep for insomniacs was discovered. The role of exercise is no different when it comes to managing heartburn. At home in the United States, the National Heartburn Alliance offers tips on tailoring your exercise goals to meet your heartburn demands:

  • Go easy. Researchers have found that the more intense the exercise, the more strain is put on the abdomen, which forces acid from the stomach into the esophagus. Abdominal exercises like crunches and sit-ups can be particularly bad. And instead of high-impact activities like resistance training, jumping rope, or contact sports, try low-impact sports, like cycling and swimming.
  • Yoga + Pilates. There are many types of yoga, but they all have something in common: they been found to reduce stress, which can be a contributor to heartburn. As for Pilates, its exercises have been shown to strengthen and develop flexibility of the abdominal muscles.
  • Mix fluids. Primarily, this means water before, during, and after exercise, which will aid digestion. But also, when you turn to sports drinks for energy, dilute it with ¼ or ½ water, as the high concentration of carbohydrates in the drinks can contribute to heartburn.
  • Be mindful of meals. Foods that are desirable during exercise because of their taste may also be trigger foods, ones that can bring on heartburn symptoms. Chief among these are citrus fruits and fruit juices (orange and grapefruit) and caffeinated drinks (Red Bull® and coffee). Also, food consumed two hours before exercise can have a negative effect on heartburn. By eating a meal that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat (all fatty foods are trigger foods) two to three hours before a workout, you reduce your risk of experiencing heartburn associated with exercise.
  • Take your meds. Most people who use over-the-counter drugs to treat heartburn experience no drug-induced side effects. Research has shown that those who take heartburn meds before exercising can significantly reduce the likelihood of exercise-related heartburn.