Exercise Induced Heartburn: What Causes Heartburn When Working Out & How to Prevent it?

Exercising on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do for your body as it has a host of benefits associated with it. However, sometimes you may experience heartburn when working out. This is known as exercise induced heartburn and is quite common in some people. Heartburn when working out can be controlled with appropriate lifestyle modifications and you need not stop your daily exercise regime due to the heartburn.

Exercising every day helps to keep you both mentally and physically healthy. Even doctors usually recommend exercising as part of a daily routine to stay away from several diseases and remain healthy, get a good night’s sleep every night and also reduce anxiety and stress. If you are experiencing heartburn when working out, you need to understand why you are getting exercise induced heartburn and the ways to prevent it.

What Causes Heartburn When Working Out?

Here are some of the major causes of heartburn when you are working out. Understanding the cause will help you treat exercise induced heartburn without having to stop your work outs.

What Causes Heartburn When Working Out

Acid Reflux – An acid reflux can cause heartburn when working out and is commonly known as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. An anti-reflux valve known as LES or lower esophageal sphincter which is a band of muscles can be found between the esophagus and the stomach. This valve closes tightly once food is swallowed in order to prevent the acidic contents of the stomach from flowing backwards or refluxing into the esophagus. However, certain factors such as changes in the body, changes in eating habits and also pregnancy can weaken the LES thereby compromising the valve’s tight and proper closure and leading to acid reflux. The same happens during exercise, causing immense heartburn and acid reflux which can be quite sudden and strong.

Exercising Within 2 Hours of Eating – Working out on a full stomach exerts a pressure on your sphincter, which is a muscle ring in between your stomach and esophagus. This pressure can lead to an acid reflux and cause exercise induced heartburn. This can be an important cause of your heartburn during exercising.

Dietary Habits – If you are wondering why you get heartburn when you are working out then you should know that eating foods such as caffeinated drinks, fatty and spicy foods, citrus juices and chocolates right before you exercise can cause heartburn. It is advisable to eat only those food items which are low in fat and protein and high in carbohydrates before starting your exercise regime. Eating an apple or a plain toast is one of the best options to consider.

Exercising a Little Too Much – Performing extremely heavy workout can pressurize the LES valve in the esophagus and cause all the food items you have previously consumed to flow up to the esophagus’s lower end. This can cause irritation in its internal lining and cause a burning sensation which is felt as exercise induced heartburn.

Not Drinking Enough Water – Drinking less water during your workout can you make your body dehydrated and prevent the food you have eaten from getting digested properly. This can result in heartburn when working out. Lack of adequate water also increases the risk of muscle cramps, which too can affect your workout.

Not Taking Appropriate Medications – If you suffer from heartburn-related issues since a long time, it is very important to take your medicines beforehand to avoid heartburn when working out. If you fail to do so, the heartburn you experience from time to time may aggravate during exercising.

If you are already suffering from heartburn or hyperacidity related issues, it is important to seek medical opinion and take appropriate medications. Getting heartburn during workout can sometimes also be an indication of gastric problems which required medical advice.

How to Prevent Heartburn When Working Out?

As exercising is a vital part of your daily regime and should not be avoided, here are some of the best ways to prevent heartburn when working out. Prevent exercise induced heartburn with these tips.

  • Selecting the Right Workouts – Chalk out your exercise regime to be such that you do not include too many of those exercises, which compress your stomach during the workout. Choose from an array of exercises such as walking, jogging, aerobics, riding a cycle and lower or upper body work out and focus on just one every day. This will help distribute the pressure on the entire body preventing a heartburn, which is often caused by exerting too much pressure on the abdominal area. Choosing the right type of workout and maintaining a routine can help to prevent heartburn during workout.
  • Plan Your Diet – Eat at least 2 to 3 hours before your workout and avoid eating heavy food items. Take water at regular intervals before and during workouts. Avoid food items which are rich in fats and protein before your workout to prevent exercise induced heartburn. As a lot of time goes into digesting such food items, these food stay in the stomach for really long and the chances of getting an acid reflux and heartburn when working out increases with it. Also, avoid those food items which are known for causing heartburn such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks, spicy and fried foods and also colas. This will surely help prevent heartburn when you work out.
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing – Avoid wearing very tight clothes during your workout as fitting clothes tend to exert pressure on the stomach area and can cause heartburn and acid reflux. Wear a loose pair of track pants and a loose t-shirt which is best for your workout.
  • Avoid Workout When Need Be – If you have just had a large meal which boasts of carbohydrates, protein and fats, then it is best to avoid your workout thereafter as chances of getting heartburn increases ten-fold. Also, if you are suffering from muscle pain or any other digestion related issues, it is best to take a break for your workout and continue once you are better to avoid getting heartburn when working out.

Sometimes it so happens that the heartburn may not be exercise induced but a serious concern or a genuine heart-related problem. It is very important to understand whether the heartburn is actually exercise induced or whether it is a serious issue, which may require immediate medical attention.

If you have taken all the preventive measures, but the heartburn fails to cease or if you are suffering from any health issues, it is important to seek medical advice. This will help rule out or treat other problems and allow you to focus on your exercise regime at peace, without getting heartburn when working out.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 1, 2017

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