Skip to content

    Heartburn/GERD Health Center

    Font Size

    6 Tips to Ease Exercise Heartburn

    Is your heartburn triggered by running, aerobics, or other forms of exercise?
    WebMD Feature

    You exercise to feel the burn -- but not that kind of burn. Muscles, yes. Stomach, no. But when you go running, do aerobics, or go to an indoor cycling class, there it is: heartburn. It's not just your legs that are churning, it's your last meal as well, churning right up into your throat. Your exercise heartburn has even made you hesitate to work out and made you wonder: What's going on here?

    What Causes Exercise Heartburn?

    Exercise can trigger heartburn if the LES muscle (the lower esophageal sphincter) is weak or too relaxed, and food or stomach acid "burps" back up from your stomach into your esophagus.

    Exercise-induced heartburn can also be triggered by certain foods -- especially spicy foods like tomato sauce, acidic foods like orange juice, carbonated sodas, coffee, chocolate, and alcohol. These are the most common triggers for heartburn, according to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).

    6 Tips When Exercise Triggers Heartburn

    You don’t need to give up exercise to avoid heartburn. Instead, try these tips:

    1. Problem-solve your diet. Do some simple problem-solving, says Tara O'Brien, PharmD, a pharmacy manager at Pharmaca in Seattle, a national, integrative pharmacy combining Western medicine with self-care. "Specifically, do you eat relatively quickly before going for a run? And what types of food?" Cut out the offending foods -- and hold the triple mochas before running.

    2. Eat something soothing before exercise. "Some people eat a yogurt before a run and don't experience any problems, while the next person may eat yogurt and experience the worst heartburn ever," says O'Brien. "Experiment with foods to see if one thing aggravates it more than another." Good places to start? A banana, yogurt, small bowl of whole-grain cereal or toast.

    3. Eat two to three hours before working out. Play with how long before you exercise to eat your light snack -- a half-hour, hour, 2 hours before -- and see which works best. Maybe you can eat a small snack an hour before exercise with no problem. Or you may need to eat two to three hours before working out to give your stomach time to empty.

    Today on WebMD

    Woman eating pizza
    How it starts, and how to stop it.
    man with indigestion
    Get lifestyle and diet tips.
    woman shopping for heartburn relief
    Medication options.
    man with heartburn
    Symptoms of both.
    digestive health
    Heartburn or Heart Attack
    stomach acid rising
    Woman eating pizza
    digestive myths
    Extreme Eats
    Bowl of pasta and peppers