Walking & Acid Reflux

Acid reflux happens when stomach contents escape into your esophagus. The acids found in the contents of your stomach irritate and inflame your esophageal wall, resulting in heartburn. For some people, exercise can exacerbate acid reflux and even trigger its development. However, this is often linked to more vigorous forms of exercise. Walking doesn't usually lead to acid reflux and actually may help to reduce its severity and frequency.

A woman walks along a path. (Image: DeanDrobot/iStock/Getty Images)

Weight Loss

Walking regularly causes you to expend more energy than normal. The more energy you expend, the more calories you can burn, which may lead to a caloric deficit. This deficit is what's needed for you to lose weight. Excess weight can place pressure on your abdomen, causing your stomach contents to back up into your food pipe. Losing weight relieves some of this pressure, helping stomach contents stay where they belong.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn, which is often described as a burning sensation within the chest. You may also notice a bitter, sour or acidic flavor toward the back of your throat as well as a feeling of food stuck in your throat. Some people even have a difficulty swallowing during a flare-up.

Physical Activity

If you do find that walking worsens or triggers acid reflux, you don't need to suffer with the discomfort. You can change the time you walk. Wait at least two hours after you've eaten to engage in physical activity. You may also lessen the severity and frequency of acid reflux by drinking more water prior to your walk. Water is known to aid in digestion, helping to pass food through the digestive tract at a faster rate.

Treatment

If changing when you walk doesn't help, you may need to make some dietary changes. Many people have certain foods that trigger with acid reflux. Spicy, fried, fatty and acidic foods are all common culprits. You may also note issues with caffeine, chocolate or peppermint.

Medications can also help, such as an antacid, an H2-receptor blocker or a proton pump inhibitor. Talk to your doctor to determine the best option for you.

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