As we age, we lose muscle mass and begin accumulating pounds that we often cannot shed. You might notice that your clothes do not fit like they used to or that you feel less toned and trim. Excess weight is more than just an inconvenience though. It is not good for your health.
Body fat, especially in the abdominal area, puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. And when the valve fails to close properly, gastric acid can seep into the esophagus and can cause pain in the chest and throat. Chronic acid reflux and heartburn symptoms are known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
One of the best ways to naturally treat heartburn is physical exercise. Even though there are not specific exercises that can completely relieve symptoms of GERD, there is a direct correlation between exercise-induced weight loss and reducing GERD. Physical activity does not have to be vigorous to burn body fat and prevent heartburn. In a study involving adults with acid reflux, those who took a post-dinner walk and delayed going to bed for at least three hours after eating had the fewest reflux symptoms overnight.
There are many other exercises you can try in addition to walking. Biking, swimming, hiking or ballroom dancing are good examples of low-impact activities that will help you achieve your desired result. You could also consider purchasing a treadmill or an elliptical machine that you can use in your home.
For the best possible results, try to adopt these exercise habits:
- Avoid eating within one or two hours before exercising.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day, but avoid energy drinks and sports drinks. Stick with water.
- Only perform exercises that keep you in the upright position. Exercises that cause you to bend over could trigger reflux.
- Find a workout partner. You are more likely to adhere to your exercise regime if you have accountability to someone.
- Switch up your activities to keep it fun!
Now, why are you still reading? It is time to get moving and kick heartburn to the curb. Get creative with your workouts and enjoy waving goodbye to those extra pounds — and to heartburn! If you have questions about what exercises are best suited for your age group and activity level, talk to your doctor.