The 2 Worst Workouts if You’re Feeling Bloated and 2 to Try Instead

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Walking and yoga are two workouts that can help reduce bloating.
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Whether you ate a high-fat, high-sodium meal, drank a soda full of carbonation and artificial sugar or are simply prone to stomach troubles, bloating is no walk in the park. But a walk in the park may be just what you need to help alleviate that discomfort.

Although exact symptoms and sources of relief will vary from person to person, exercise can help promote gas release and healthy digestion for most people. But the type of physical activity you choose matters, so before you start sweating it out, consider the best and worst workouts for bloating.

Bloating 101

Generally, bloating feels a lot like having an overly full stomach, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and is generally the product of extra air or gas in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This can be caused by the foods you eat, inconsistent digestion, overeating, weight gain and menstruation.

Fiber-dense foods, carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners and dairy are common food sources of bloating. In some cases, habits like smoking, eating too quickly and even drinking out of a straw may be the culprit, per the AAFP.

For the most part, bloating is temporary and not a cause for concern. You can soothe temporary bloating with some tweaks to your diet, herbal teas or over-the-counter medication, but movement may help, too.

Best Workouts for Beating the Bloat

Since bloating is generally caused by digestive issues, exercise alone probably won't completely get rid of bloating, says April Whitney, certified personal trainer. However, movement can help encourage healthier digestion and may help alleviate some of the uncomfortable symptoms.

1. Low-Intensity Cardio

If you want to soothe your bloating with exercise, steady-state cardio exercises, like walking or biking may do the trick, Whitney says. Although these activities won't necessarily cure your bloating, they can help improve your digestion, ultimately bringing down the bloat.

"Low-intensity movement can help improve digestion and reduce bloating by moving excess gas that may be trapped along the digestive tract," Whitney says.

Researchers of a small January 2015 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that steady-state cardio activities, like walking, biking and aerobics improved IBS symptoms, including bloating and abdominal discomfort.

Be aware that you don't want to swallow too much air during your workout, which can increase or worsen symptoms of bloating. Keep your heart rate low and focus on reducing your stress levels during your walk, Whitney says.

2. Yoga and Mobility Exercises

Yoga is another exercise you can try to relieve bloating, Whitney says. Generally, this practice involves slow and controlled movements, which can encourage better digestion.

After taking patients through 12 weeks of yoga, researchers of a December 2015 study published in The European Journal of Integrative Medicine found that the practice positively effected IBS symptoms.

Yoga's stress-relieving benefits may also be a source of relief for abdominal discomfort. Stress management is another practice encouraged in IBS treatment, according to the American Gastroenterological Association. Incorporating yoga or meditation into your daily routine may help you cope if your bloating is stress-related.

Whitney suggests giving these yoga and mobility exercises a try when you're feeling some discomfort.

Move 1: Bird Dog

  1. Start kneeling on all fours, spine in a neutral position and neck long.
  2. Keeping your left palm and right knee rooted, raise your right arm straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor.
  3. Simultaneously, raise your left leg straight out behind you, parallel to the ground.
  4. Pause here for a moment, then return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Move 2: Dead Bug

  1. Start lying flat on the ground with your back flat against the floor.
  2. Bring your legs up to a tabletop position, knees bent at 90 degrees. This is the starting position.
  3. Raise your arms up toward the ceiling.
  4. Keeping your back flat against the ground, lower your right arm straight alongside your head.
  5. At the same time, extend your left leg straight and lower it to an inch above the ground.
  6. Pause here for a moment, then return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.

Move 3: Plank

  1. Start kneeling on the floor, hands directly beneath your shoulders, knees in line with the hips.
  2. Root your palms and step your legs straight behind you hip-width apart.
  3. Keep your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
  4. Breathe deeply here and hold for 10 to 60 seconds (or however long you can with good form).

Worst Workouts if You're Bloated

1. Running

Whereas walking isn't likely to aggravate bloating, running is a bit of a toss-up. Running-induced diarrhea — often known as runner's trots — isn't uncommon and can cause gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort, according to the Mayo Clinic.

And running-related digestive issues are especially common for long-distance runners. After reviewing questionnaires from 145 runners, researchers of an August 2017 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that men and women experienced at least one GI symptom on 84 percent and 78 percent of their runs, respectively.

Pick your pre-run meals wisely, avoiding foods high in fiber, artificial sweeteners or fat. This may help alleviate running-induced bloating or GI distress but there's no guarantee, per the Mayo Clinic. So if you're really struggling with bloating, going on a run probably isn't the best idea.

2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT and digestive unrest or bloating definitely don't mix. If you're feeling bloated or gassy, you'll definitely want to skip the HIIT session, Whitney says.

"High-intensity exercise such as HIIT should be avoided if suffering from bloating and discomfort," she says. "The stress of the high intensity exercise could temporarily make symptoms feel more intense."

Although strenuous exercise can be great for your body, it can also promote unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms, even in perfectly healthy individuals, according to a June 2017 study published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

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