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Can Exercise Irritate an Ulcer?

author image Maria Warren, R.N.
A registered nurse, Maria Warren has worked as a professional health writer since 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Salem State College and a Master of Public Health in nutrition from Tufts University. Warren is currently working toward a nurse practitioner license.
Can Exercise Irritate an Ulcer?
Sip-ups can irritate ulcers. Photo Credit Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

An ulcer is an open painful sore on the lining of the esophagus, stomach or duodenum. Helicobacter pylori bacteria is the most common cause of ulcers. Other causes include regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications and ingestion of corrosive substances. Vigorous abdominal exercises can irritate an existing ulcer. Consult your doctor before you participate in any new form of physical activity.

Abdominal Exercise

Abdominal exercises such as crunches and sit-ups are used to tighten abdominal muscles. These exercises increase intra-abdominal pressure, which can worsen heartburn and other symptoms of ulcers. Vigorous abdominal exercises may also cause existing ulcers to perforate through the wall of the stomach. If you experience sudden severe abdominal pain after engaging in abdominal exercises, seek immediate medical attention.

Safe Exercises

Ulcers should not stop you from engaging in regular physical exercise. According to a study published in the "Western Journal of Medicine," regular physical exercise can help improve ulcers and your overall health. Exercise also prevents ulcers from becoming complicated. Participate in physical exercise such as walking, bicycling, swimming, cycling and jogging. Avoid exercises that strain the abdominal region.


Ulcers are usually treated successfully with antibiotics and acid-reducing drugs. If you have a Helicobacter pylori infection, your doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics and acid-reducing drugs for one to two weeks, according to Cedars Sinai. During treatment, avoid taking substances that exacerbate ulcers. These include alcohol, tobacco and smoking. If you have bleeding complications caused by ulcers, you may require surgery.


Ulcers often cause heartburn, which is a burning sensation felt in the chest area between your breastbone. Other symptoms include abdominal tenderness,loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, gas, bloating and belching. When your ulcers become severe, you may experience dark or black stool, vomiting blood and unintentional weight loss, according to Cedars Sinai. Consult the doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

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