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Can Exercise Help Acid Reflux?

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES), a muscular ring that separates the oesophagus from the stomach, weakens or relaxes inappropriately. This allows stomach acid to flow back into the oesophagus, leading to irritation and inflammation of the oesophagal lining.

When stomach acid enters the oesophagus, it can cause irritation and inflammation of the oesophagal lining, leading to a burning sensation in the chest, often referred to as heartburn. While occasional heartburn is common and usually harmless, frequent or persistent acid reflux may indicate a more chronic condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Symptoms of acid reflux may include heartburn, regurgitation of sour-tasting stomach contents, chest pain, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), chronic cough, and hoarseness. Certain factors, such as overeating, consuming acidic or spicy foods, lying down immediately after eating, and obesity, can trigger or worsen acid reflux symptoms.

The Effects of Exercise on Acid Reflux

Regular exercise has numerous health benefits, including aiding digestion. Exercise can potentially help manage acid reflux in several ways:

1. Weight Management

Regular exercise can contribute to weight management or weight loss, which may be beneficial for individuals with acid reflux. Excess weight, especially around the abdomen, can put pressure on the stomach, leading to increased pressure on the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES). This pressure can weaken the LES and increase the risk of acid reflux.

2. Improved Digestion

Engaging in physical activity can promote gastrointestinal motility, helping food move more efficiently through the digestive system. This can reduce the likelihood of food and stomach acid backing up into the oesophagus.

3. Stress Reduction

Exercise is known to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Stress is a common trigger for acid reflux symptoms, and managing stress through exercise can help alleviate symptoms or prevent them from occurring.

4. Enhanced Overall Health

Regular exercise is associated with better overall health, including a stronger immune system and improved cardiovascular function. A healthy immune system can help reduce the risk of infections that may exacerbate acid reflux symptoms.

5. Encourages Upright Posture

Certain exercises, such as walking or upright activities like yoga, encourage an upright posture. Maintaining an upright position after eating can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the oesophagus.

It is essential to note that while exercise can have positive effects on acid reflux management, certain precautions should be taken to minimise the risk of aggravating symptoms. High-impact exercises, such as running or jumping, may put additional pressure on the abdomen and LES, potentially worsening acid reflux. Individuals with acid reflux should opt for low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, swimming, or gentle yoga. Staying hydrated during exercise is also essential, as it can help maintain proper digestion and prevent dehydration, which may contribute to acid reflux.

Additionally, it’s also important to note that there may be other issues contributing to your acid reflux, which can be intrinsic, structural or both, that can also cause acid reflux. This might necessitate additional diagnostic methods or treatments to effectively manage and alleviate your symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you experience frequent or persistent acid reflux symptoms, it is crucial to seek professional evaluation and diagnosis from an acid reflux specialist or gastroenterologist. They can perform diagnostic tests, such as endoscopy or pH monitoring, to confirm the presence of GERD and assess its severity. Treatment options for acid reflux may include lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, medication, or, in severe cases, surgical intervention.


Treatment for acid reflux typically involves lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding trigger foods, eating smaller meals, maintaining an upright posture after eating, and weight management. Over-the-counter antacids and acid reducers may provide temporary relief for mild symptoms. In cases of frequent or severe acid reflux, prescription medications or, in severe cases, surgical procedures to strengthen the LES or repair the oesophagus may be required.


If you are suffering from acid reflux, it is also important to consult with a healthcare provider or an acid reflux specialist before starting an exercise regimen. They can provide personalised advice and recommend exercises that are safe and appropriate for individual needs and health conditions. A comprehensive approach that combines exercise with lifestyle modifications and medical management can contribute to better acid reflux management and overall well-being.

In conclusion, while exercise can potentially aid digestion and contribute to better overall health, its role in managing acid reflux is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Engaging in regular, low-impact exercise and adopting a healthy lifestyle may help prevent and relieve some acid reflux symptoms. However, it is essential to consult with an acid reflux specialist for personalised guidance and treatment recommendations tailored to your specific condition and needs. A comprehensive approach, combining appropriate exercise, dietary modifications, and medical management, can contribute to a better quality of life for individuals living with acid reflux or GERD.

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Here at KYM Surgery, we believe in providing holistic & comprehensive medical care for all patients.