Burping and other gastrointestinal disturbances while exercising are not uncommon. According to experts at Rice University, studies on marathon runners and triathletes have shown that up to 50 percent of them experienced some form of GI distress, including burping. The exact cause is not known, but there are many factors that can contribute to burping while exercising, and exercise often exacerbates the problem. Swallowed air and undigested carbohydrates are two common problems of gas and burping, according to John Hopkins University.
Digestion and Exercise
During the digestive process, blood flow increases to the stomach and intestines. In addition, hormones are secreted that promote gut motility --- the movement of food through the intestinal tract. When you exercise, blood is shunted out to the extremities to provide needed oxygen and nutrients for movement. This impairs the digestive process and can cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, including burping.
While the exact mechanism that causes burping during exercise is unknown, several factors have been found to increase the likelihood of it occurring. Eating too much right before exercising, dehydration and hard to digest foods are common culprits. Foods that are notorious for causing gas include beans, some vegetables, wheat products and carbonated sodas. Caffeine can irritate the gastric mucosa, leading to burping in sensitive individuals. If you swallow too much air while exercising or when eating, it can contribute to poor digestion and burping. It's also possible that you have an underlying gastrointestinal disorder causing the problem.
While you can't change the fact that overall digestion is impaired during exercise, you can take precautions that can help you avoid burping. Eat three to four hours before exercising and avoid foods with lots of sugars, starches and fiber. If you forget to eat, a small snack no less than 30 minutes before exercise should not cause a problem. Avoid consuming sodas, caffeine and any foods you may have problems digesting -- dairy products and wheat are common culprits. If you are not sure what foods may be causing your problem, consult a qualified nutritionist. Drink 1 to 3 cups of water before exercising, and consume water liberally during and after exercise to avoid dehydration. Focus on your breathing while exercising, keeping it slow and even to avoid taking big gulps of air. If you can't talk and hold a conversation while you are exercising, you are working too hard. Slow down and take deeper breaths.
Most burping is harmless and can be eliminated or minimized by following simple steps. However, if you find that adjusting your eating and drinking habits are not helping with the burping, or if you have other symptoms such as abdominal pain, blood in the stool, acid reflux or bloating when not exercising, you may have a gastrointestinal problem that is causing the burping. Consult your physician if this is the case.