Do you suffer from constant heartburn, noncardiac chest pain, and difficulty swallowing? If so, you might have GERD, one of the most common digestive disorders in the US that affects about 20% of American adults.

When you struggle with GERD, typical heartburn remedies like antacids don’t solve the problem. This can impact your life in a myriad of ways, including the way that you exercise.

Exercise can soothe GERD symptoms, but only if you approach exercising the right way. Believe it or not, some types of exercise can make your GERD symptoms worse.

If you don’t want to give up your active lifestyle but you’re tired of exacerbating your GERD, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn about exercising the right way while managing GERD.

Why Can Some Exercises Exacerbate GERD?

As you eat and digest, the ring of muscle that sits between your esophagus and stomach is meant to close tightly, functioning as a seal. This seal serves a major function: keeping your stomach acid in your stomach and preventing it from creeping back up into your esophagus, where it will cause a burning sensation. In severe cases, the ring of muscle between your esophagus and throat can also fail to seal, causing that acid to creep all the way into your throat, where it can start to wreak havoc.

Some exercises, particularly high-impact exercises, tend to stir the pot. Repeated pressure on your abdomen combined with a relaxing of one or both rings of muscle can lead to a sudden rush of GERD symptoms. This may occur if your exercises of choice include:

  • running or sprinting
  • heavyweight lifting
  • cycling on steep inclines and declines
  • sit-ups and crunches
  • high-impact exercises that involve jumping, like jump roping or rebound exercise

As much as you might love these exercises, it’s not advisable to do things that trigger GERD symptoms. When symptoms run rampant, you can increase your risk of other health complications, including esophageal ulcers and esophageal cancer.

What Exercises Are Better for People With GERD and Heartburn?

The good news is that there are plenty of exercises that are ideal for people with GERD. Appropriate exercises that aren’t likely to trigger GERD symptoms include:

  • walking
  • jogging that doesn’t strain the lungs
  • swimming
  • cycling on a stationary bike or on flat terrain
  • strength training without heavyweights
  • yoga
  • tai chi
  • pilates

While these exercises for GERD may not be quite as high-intensity as the ones you’re used to, they can still keep you in great shape and yield similar benefits.

Tips to Stay Active With GERD

There are other steps you can take in addition to swapping out high-intensity exercises for more moderate exercises. In some cases, making a few changes will allow you to continue with your normal exercise routine, even if that includes things like running or other high-impact exercises. Let’s take a look at what those steps are.

Pay Attention to the Activities That Trigger Your GERD

Not everyone will experience an increase in GERD symptoms when they engage in high-impact exercises. If you’re not sure if you need to change your routine, it’s time to start tracking your reaction to your workouts, writing down any symptoms you experience within a few hours of working out so that you can determine which physical activities, if any, are most triggering. Remember, some symptoms aren’t as obviously tied to GERD and can include things like a persistent dry cough, hoarseness, bloating, and hiccups.

Monitor Your Pre-Workout Diet

In the hours leading to your workout, avoid foods that trigger acid reflux, including coffee, chocolate, fried foods, and any other foods that you know are triggering for you. Instead, opt for complex carbohydrates, which are quick to digest and less likely to lead to mid-workout heartburn. Ideally, you’ll want to wait at least one hour after you eat to begin exercising so that you give your stomach more time to digest.

Sip Water While You Exercise

Water doesn’t just keep you hydrated while you’re working up a sweat. It also aids in digestion, and speeding up digestion can lower your chances of stomach acid passing through your esophagus. That said, too much liquid can backfire, so make sure that you’re taking small sips periodically, rather than chugging your whole water bottle in one gulp.

Keep Clothes Loose

A surprising factor that can exacerbate GERD symptoms is tight clothing, particularly clothing that is tight around the abdomen. Oftentimes, workout clothes are tight-fitting and can restrict your abdomen even if the materials are stretchy. When you exercise, opt for loose-fitting clothing that flows with your body, rather than restricting it.

Take D-limonene

D-limonene is a pretty spectacular terpene that comes from citrus peels and can neutralize gastric acid while promoting normal peristalsis. That’s why D-limonene is one of the key ingredients in GerdLi’s physician-engineered GERD supplement. Talk to your doctor about incorporating D-limonene into your current GERD treatment and use GerdLi to support your active lifestyle and keep those GERD symptoms in check even when you exercise.

GerdLi Can Support an Active Lifestyle

We often think of exercise as the cure for most ailments and for many, exercise can reduce GERD symptoms. However, there are certain types of exercises that can exacerbate GERD symptoms like heartburn, and it’s easy to become discouraged and drop your weekly workout schedule, altogether. With this guide, you can continue your active lifestyle without increasing your GERD symptoms.

GerdLi is a D-limonene supplement that offers a natural alternative to antacids. Taking GerdLi, along with other steps, precautions, and changes, may support your active lifestyle and keep GERD symptoms at bay. Shop GerdLi now to see the effects for yourself!

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Dr. Minhas, M.D.

Board-certified internal medicine (ABIM)

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