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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

6 Tips to Ease Exercise Heartburn

Is your heartburn triggered by running, aerobics, or other forms of exercise?
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6 Tips When Exercise Triggers Heartburn continued...

4. Rethink your workout. Certain kinds of exercise may trigger heartburn for some people more than others. Experiment to see whether certain workouts trigger heartburn more or less for you. Maybe you can take an indoor cycling class or go hiking if high-impact aerobics or running hurt. Crunches and core work on a full stomach may have to go. Headstands and Downward Dog in yoga, which reverse the natural gravity of digestion, can also trigger heartburn; ask your teacher how to modify these inverted poses.

5. Try baking soda. Taking something for symptoms wouldn't hurt, says O'Brien. Several natural remedies exist, although they only provide temporary relief. Baking soda added to water can help neutralize and wash away stomach acids. Because baking soda may add more salt to your diet, it's best to speak to your doctor first before trying this remedy.

6. Try over-the-counter relief. In your local pharmacy, look for an antacid with calcium -- that's the ingredient that neutralizes stomach acid. "Chewing a Tums or taking a calcium-based antacid is very safe, so it would be worth a try," says O'Brien. Although these are fast-acting, symptom-relief antacids, it can't hurt to try one as a preventive measure before exercise.

Exercise Heartburn: To Eat or Not to Eat?

No doubt you've often wondered: Should you eat before exercise or work out on an empty stomach?

"That depends on how much exercise you're going to do," says O'Brien. "You always want to have fuel." She advises at least having a light snack -- a banana would be perfect fuel for exercise -- unless you're going for a 20-mile run.

Call Your Doctor or Pharmacist If:

  • Your symptoms aren't relieved, no matter what you do.
  • You have chest pain, either triggered by exercise or not. Chest pain can be a warning sign of a mild heart attack. People having heart attacks have been known to dismiss their chest pain as "just a little heartburn."

So hold the coffee and orange juice before you work out, try yogurt or a banana an hour or two before exercise, and keep your headstands short to avoid heartburn.

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Reviewed on April 13, 2009

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