Whether you live life in the fast or slow lane, you’ll need some form of regular exercise. Besides reducing body fat, exercise can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your overall sense of well-being, and, in certain cases, decrease Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms. But that doesn’t mean that all exercises are beneficial for GERD sufferers. Strenuous exercises can actually worsen symptoms for some people. These include:

  • Exercises that put a lot of strain on your abdominal wall, such as heavy weight lifting (e.g. squatting), gymnastics, rock climbing, and competitive cycling.
  • Exercises in which you jump up and down or bounce around a lot, such as vigorous running, high-impact aerobics, jumping rope, or using a stair stepping machine.
  • Exercises such as marathon running that require bouncy movements for long periods of time, or sudden bursts of speed such as sprinting or cycling. These exercises also cause you to take in large gulps of air, which can put pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter, causing the valve to open, and acid to move back up into your esophagus.


Gut-friendly exercises

If high-impact exercises don’t aggravate your GERD symptoms, and if your physician approves, then by all means do them. Otherwise, consider lower-impact exercises such as swimming, fast-paced walking, or low-level jogging. Alternatively, try riding a stationary bicycle, doing light treadmill exercises, as well as yoga, or light weight lifting.


How much do you need?

Generally, thirty consecutive minutes of exercise nearly every day will provide the greatest benefit. If you can’t afford that block of time, it’s perfectly acceptable to exercise 10 to 15 minutes here and there throughout the day as long as the day’s cumulative exercise total adds up to at least thirty minutes.

One word of caution – if you’re not in great shape, then don’t rush things. Too much too soon can lead to injuries. When just starting out, check with your doctor about what type of exercise would be best for someone of your age and current physical condition.


Some Common Acid Related Problems

  • Heartburn: It usually feels like a burning sensation in your chest and can rise upwards to your neck and throat.
  • Regurgitation: It occurs when stomach contents back up from the esophagus into your throat, so food re-tastes or repeats in your mouth.
  • Acid Indigestion: It occurs when stomach acids reach the throat, resulting in a sour or acid taste in the mouth.

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue – 162 July/August 2007