Maybe you’re on the stationary bike at the gym or jogging in your neighborhood when you feel it—the burn! No, not the welcome burn of your muscles letting you know you’re working hard. In this case, we mean heartburn. It’s been happening for a while now and you’re wondering why each time your heart rate starts climbing you get heartburn while exercising.

Getting heartburn while eating hot wings or pizza is no surprise, but when it’s during something healthy like exercise, it can cause frustration. Let’s take a look at what triggers exercise heartburn, who gets it, and how you can overcome it.

What causes heartburn?

GERD-related heartburn happens when the lower esophageal sphincter or LES muscle is relaxed enough that stomach acid is released back up into your esophagus, known as acid reflux. This causes the burning sensation in your chest or upper abdomen we know as heartburn. Heartburn can also be triggered by eating certain foods. Some of these include spicy foods, coffee, chocolate, carbonated beverages, acidic foods and alcohol.

Exercise Heartburn

It’s not as surprising as you would think that exercise can cause heartburn. When you are jumping up and down, as happens during running, sports, etc., the acid in your stomach can travel upward into your esophagus. Exercise heartburn can be made worse due to the type and duration of the chosen workout.

Stopping Exercise Heartburn

Exercise heartburn can often be attributed to behaviors or lifestyle habits. You don’t need to quit working out to solve your exercise-induced heartburn, instead you can make specific lifestyle changes tailored to stop acid reflux. Here are some tips for avoiding heartburn while you exercise.

1.     Cut out offenders. From your diet, that is. Removing trigger foods from your diet altogether is a reliable way to avoid heartburn when you work out.

2.     Find a snack that works. Experiment with different soothing foods and see which ones work to alleviate symptoms of your heartburn before you exercise.

3.     Eat long before working out. Try and put more time between your meals or snacks and a workout. See what timing works best for you and then stick to it.

4.     Try a different workout. You may find that some exercises spur heartburn more than others. Test to find which trigger your heartburn and which don’t, then stick with the ones that don’t.

5.     Lose weight. While this can seem a bit obvious considering if you’re suffering from exercise-induced heartburn it’s likely something you are trying to achieve. However, it’s important to note that being overweight is a catalyst for heartburn. As mentioned above, a healthy diet and lifestyle changes can assist in both reduction of heartburn and in losing weight.

6.     Seek medical advice. If you can’t alleviate your heartburn alone, a specialist can help.

If you find that the changes mentioned above don’t seem to improve your heartburn during exercise, it’s likely that your heartburn is caused by a chronic condition like GERD. It’s a treatable condition, but without treatment don’t expect your heartburn to ever disappear on its own. If you’re worried about the source of your heartburn, make an appointment with your doctor to make sure there aren’t underlying factors contributing to your heartburn. The specialists at Tampa Bay Reflux Center are uniquely trained in managing acid reflux, heartburn and GERD. Make an appointment today!

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