Exercising to Reduce Reflux

Exercise can be a big help to acid reflux sufferers. Which reflux sufferers can benefit most from exercise? Those who are overweight.

Exercise promotes a healthy weight, and a healthy weight is important for preventing heartburn and for reducing it in people who already have it. Excess weight puts too much pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and that pressure can cause acid reflux.

People who are overweight are much more likely to suffer from acid reflux than people who are a healthy weight. To reach or maintain a healthy weight, it's all about calories in versus calories out. Consume fewer calories and burn more calories, and you'll lose weight (unless you have an extremely rare condition such as a thyroid disorder).

However, not all exercise forms are great for reflux sufferers.

The following types of exercise can be problematic:

  • Abdominal exercises, such as crunches

  • Aerobics

  • Jumping rope

  • High-activity dance, such as break dancing, Zumba, or anything that has you spinning around or operating at a very high heart rate

  • Martial arts, such as karate or judo

  • Running

  • Anything that puts you upside down, such as a headstand in yoga or touching your toes

If you notice increased reflux symptoms during or after these types of activity, modify the activity or substitute it. If these activities don't give you problems, of course, you can keep doing them!

So, what is the perfect form of exercise for reflux sufferers? There isn't one. It fully depends on your condition, and how in shape you are. However, the following routine will work for many of you. Adjust as needed considering your activity level.

Day 1: For 20 minutes, take a brisk walk.
Day 2: For 30 minutes, go for a light swim or do stretching or calisthenics (such as arm lifts or very gentle leg lifts).
Day 3: For 20 minutes, take a brisk walk.
Day 4: For 30 minutes, go for a light swim or do stretching or calisthenics.
Day 5: For 20 minutes, take a brisk walk.
Day 6: For 30 minutes, go for a light swim or do stretching or calisthenics.
Day 7: For 20 minutes, take a brisk walk.

A routine like this is worth making time for. It'll help you feel better in general and help burn excess weight you may have. Excess weight increases pressure on the LES, and that pressure is a trigger for reflux. Exercise that risk away! If this plan seems intimidating to you, start modestly by cutting the times in half or by doing the exercises very slowly.

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