Does Working Out Cause Acid Reflux?

If you’re someone who suffers from acid reflux, you might be wondering if working out could be making your symptoms worse. Here’s what you need to know.


It is well understood that physical activity can have a positive impact on overall health, but can it also have an effect on acid reflux? Many people who experience acid reflux while they exercise might be tempted to assume that working out is the cause of their symptoms. While it is possible that some activities could trigger a relapse of acid reflux symptoms, it may not always be the case. In this article, we will discuss how exercising can affect the likelihood of developing acid reflux and how to minimize its occurrence during routine workouts.

Causes of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a highly common condition, and can be caused by a variety of different factors. Diet, lifestyle, and genetics can all play a role in its development. While it is known that certain foods can trigger acid reflux, it has also been suggested that physical activity can cause it too. In this section, let’s explore some of the causes of acid reflux, and the role working out may play in its development.

Lifestyle Factors

It is well known that lifestyle factors can play a role in the development of acid reflux. Eating large meals or eating late at night, lying down after eating a full meal and drinking alcohol or carbonated beverages can all increase the chances of developing acid reflux. Another lifestyle factor that has been linked to acid reflux is physical activity – specifically exercise and working out.

Working out can cause straining on abdominal muscles as well as increased pressure in the abdomen which can lead to the relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, which prevents stomach acids from regurgitating back up into your esophagus. Additionally, when unusually vigorous activity is undertaken this causes changes in respiration including shallow breathing and panting which can worsen preexisting acid reflux symptoms. In addition, when exercising we often find ourselves surrounded by people who are either enjoying a snack before or after their workout and this can contribute to an increase in our own food cravings which may lead to overeating.

This doesn’t mean you should stop working out altogether, but it does mean that an honest evaluation of how certain lifestyle factors could be contributing to your existing condition is necessary. Paying attention to pre- and post-workout routines may help reduce symptoms of acid reflux by avoiding certain triggers such as high intake of sugary drinks or fatty snacks that can weigh heavily on your stomach before you begin any physical activity. Additionally utilizing good posture during exercise may also help reduce the symptoms associated with acid reflux. Lastly if despite these precautions acid reflux persists during work out sessions it could be sensible to reassess whether your regime needs amending or whether a few days rest might be prudent

Dietary Factors

Habitual dietary choices can be a major contributor to gastric reflux. Certain foods and beverages such as spicy foods, fried foods, garlic, onions, citrus fruits, caffeinated beverages, chocolate and alcoholic drinks may provoke acid reflux. Eating large meals or eating right before bedtime is also associated with an increase in symptoms. If you experience acid reflux after eating certain foods it may be prudent to limit or avoid those items.

Other dietary changes that may help reduce symptoms include reducing portion sizes and avoiding tight-fitting clothing that can press on the stomach. Eating right after moderate exercise can also help reduce symptoms of acid reflux. It is recommended to try different combinations of the diets listed above without introducing any one diet as a universal panacea for acid reflux relief; each individual should find what works for them.

Medical Conditions

In some cases, medical conditions can be the underlying cause of acid reflux. This includes conditions such as diabetic neuropathy, scleroderma, and hypersensitivity esophageal disorder. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common medical causes of acid reflux which is a digestive condition where stomach acid flow back up into the esophagus causing a burning sensation and irritation. Other contributing conditions include peptic ulcer disease and pancreatitis. If you have any chronic health conditions that affect your digestive system, they may be causing your acid reflux symptoms. It is important to talk to your doctor to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Does Working Out Cause Acid Reflux?

Working out can be an important part of your overall health but it can also cause a number of stomach issues. Acid reflux is one of the potential risks of working out, and it’s important to understand how it works, the causes, and how it can be prevented. In this article, we’ll explore whether or not working out is a major cause of acid reflux and how to prevent it.

Intense Exercise

Intense physical activity can cause changes in the body that can exacerbate symptoms of acid reflux. During physical exertion, your breathing rate increases, allowing you to take in more oxygen. This altered respiratory cycle may lead to an increased pressure in the thorax, which can put pressure on the stomach and potentially force stomach acid upwards into the esophagus.

In addition, physical exertion often increases your levels of cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones that are known for their stimulatory effects. Elevated cortisol and adrenaline levels can increase the production of gastric acid, leading to a greater risk for developing acid reflux.

It is important to note that most people who work out regularly do not experience any issues with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Even though there is an association between GERD and exercise, it is still possible to successfully manage this condition with proper diet modifications and lifestyle habits such as taking frequent breaks during workouts.
Consultation with a gastroenterologist or nutritionist may help you make sense of any dietary changes needed for improved GERD control prior to or during exercise regimen or sports participation.

Low-Impact Exercise

Low-impact exercise is usually recommended for those suffering from Acid Reflux. Low-impact exercise includes walking, swimming, and gentle stretching. These activities will help you still burn calories while helping your digestive tract stay healthy. Walking can provide a low-intensity cardiovascular workout that will benefit your overall health and fitness levels while being gentle on your digestive system. Swimming can be an excellent way to help with digestion issues since it supports the body and uses gravity to aid digestion. Gentle stretching is also beneficial as it maintains flexibility in the body while staying low impact so as not to cause discomfort or strain on the digestive system. While some types of vigorous exercise have been known to worsen Acid Reflux symptoms, if done in moderation, certain forms of moderate physical activity may actually be helpful for combating GERD.

Managing Acid Reflux

Exercise is an important factor in maintaining good health, however for people suffering from acid reflux, it can be a source of discomfort. Some physical activities can worsen acid reflux symptoms, while others may help manage the condition. Let’s take a look at the potential causes of acid reflux and how to mitigate it through exercise.

Dietary Changes

When it comes to managing your acid reflux, dietary changes are an essential part of the process. Since diet can play a large role in triggering acid reflux symptoms, determining the foods that cause the issue for you is the first step in making suitable dietary modifications. Common triggers include spicy or greasy foods, caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruits and tomatoes. Other known contributors to acid reflux include carbonated drinks and alcohol, fatty and fried foods, peppermint and spearmint gum, garlic and onions.

Additionally, adopting healthy eating habits such as consuming smaller meals throughout the day can help relieve pressure on an already overloaded digestive system. It’s also important to monitor how quickly you eat; eating too quickly can cause the stomach to release excessive amounts of gastric acids that can enter and irritate your esophagus. Eating several smaller portions during meals spaced out through out the day helps keep digestion under control while eliminating some potential irritants from your diet all together. Furthermore, snacks that revolve around fresh fruit or raw vegetables are often ideal choices for those suffering from frequent heartburn.


Medications are usually the first line of treatment for acid reflux. Over-the-counter antacids and H2 blockers may help decrease the effects of stomach acid. Antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids and Tums, neutralize stomach acid. H2 blockers, like cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid AC) and nizatidine (Axid AR), reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces. If over-the-counter medications don’t work, your doctor may prescribe a proton pump inhibitor that decreases stomach acid production even more effectively than H2 blockers.

Prescription medications may cause diarrhea or constipation as side effects. Talk to your doctor if you experience these issues or it the medications don’t seem to be helping with the problem. In some cases, surgery may be recommended for persistent GERD symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes

Apart from following a diet tailored to your acid reflux, you can also manage your condition with lifestyle changes. While exercise can be beneficial to overall well-being, certain forms of exercise like weight lifting and high-intensity interval training may worsen Acid Reflux symptoms. Avoid exercising during meal times and try to work out at least two hours after eating meals or snacks. Where possible, prefer low-impact exercises such as yoga, Pilates, walking and swimming over more strenuous workouts.

Additionally, it’s important to pay attention to other lifestyle habits such as smoking or drinking alcohol which can affect your acid reflux symptoms. Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have been linked to the development of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) which is a form of long-term acid reflux disorder that requires medical attention for effective management. If you have GERD, smoking cessation and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink is essential for reducing acid reflux in the long run.


Overall, exercise can provide many benefits to the body, but this does not mean that the risk of acid reflux should be disregarded. There is not enough scientific evidence currently available to suggest a definitive link between exercise and acid reflux. Nevertheless, certain types of workouts may worsen acid reflux and it is important to take steps to reduce the risk. If you are feeling any symptoms or discomfort related to acid reflux, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider who can advise you on how best to manage your health. Taking measures such as avoiding certain foods, avoiding eating too close to exercising, staying hydrated and eating smaller meals before exercising may help reduce your risk of developing acid reflux while working out.

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