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Indigestion During Cardio

by
author image Angela Brady
Angela Brady has been writing since 1997. Currently transitioning to a research career in oncolytic virology, she has won awards for her work related to genomics, proteomics, and biotechnology. She is also an authority on sustainable design, having studied, practiced and written extensively on the subject.
Indigestion During Cardio
Leaning forward can redirect acid up the esophagus. Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Indigestion during cardio workouts is common because the muscles used in the exercise divert blood flow away from your digestive tract, upsetting the works. What's even more upsetting is that the impact from running, the forward lean of cycling or improper breathing patterns while swimming can actually promote indigestion by stimulating your insides in uncomfortable ways. There are some tricks to relieve the pain mid-workout, and a little forethought and planning can prevent it entirely.

Time Your Nutrition

Working out on an empty stomach can leave you depleted of energy, but you must time your meals correctly to avoid indigestion. Small snacks are fine up to the last hour before your workout, but large meals should be eaten at least three hours prior. This gives your body a chance to get the digestion started before blood flow is diverted, and you run a much smaller risk of stomach problems during your workout. Experiment to see what timing works for you.

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Stay Hydrated

Keeping your fluid levels up helps lubricate your digestive system, allowing things to process a little faster. Drinking water during your workout can also help wash the acid back down to where it should be. The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking 2 to 3 cups of water during the three hours before your workout, drinking at least a half-cup every 20 minutes during your session and drinking 2 to 3 cups per pound lost during the workout afterward. On extremely hot days, you may need even more water.

Be Proactive

If you think you might experience indigestion during your workout, take an over-the-counter acid reducer before you start. Another option is to keep an antacid tablet in your pocket so you can chew it mid-workout if you feel symptoms coming on. If you know what foods trigger your indigestion, avoid them before your workout or even the night before if you exercise early in the morning. Common triggers include chocolate, coffee, onions and citrus.

Change Your Technique

Leaning forward into an aerodynamic cyclist pose puts pressure on your abdomen and causes acid to rise, so experiment with a more upright posture. The constant impact of running shakes up your insides and causes problems, so modify your gait to minimize bounce and maximize forward motion. Swimmers should learn to exhale underwater so they don't have to both exhale and inhale when they turn their head. This way, they will gulp less air that can cause indigestion. No matter your sport, focus on shock absorption and smooth breathing techniques to keep things running smoothly.

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