Why Do I Burp After Exercise?

Burping after exercise, along with heartburn and other gastrointestinal disturbances, isn't 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 that dreaded belching.

Eating a big meal right before exercising can cause burping. (Image: yulkapopkova/E+/GettyImages)

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The exact cause isn't always obvious, but there are many factors that can contribute to burping after exercise. Mayo Clinic notes that swallowed air and undigested carbohydrates are among the most common problems behind gas and belching.

The Digestion-Exercise Connection

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. In general, this effect is a good one. But it may not always happen as discretely as you like, especially in terms of belching.

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.

Burping and Heartburn After Workouts?

While the exact mechanism that causes burping after 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.

Other habits related to your workout can also be a factor. Do you drink coffee before or after your workout? Caffeine can also 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, heartburn and belching. It's also possible that you have an underlying gastrointestinal disorder causing the problem.

Preventing Burping After Exercise

While you can't change the fact that overall digestion is impaired during a workout, you can take precautions that can help you avoid burping after exercise. 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.

Still Having Trouble?

Most burping is harmless and can be eliminated or minimized by following simple steps. However, sometimes adjusting your eating and drinking habits may not be all that's needed to help with the belching, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

If the problem doesn't go away, or if you have other symptoms such as abdominal pain, blood in the stool, heartburn, acid reflux or bloating when not exercising, talk to your doctor. You may have a gastrointestinal problem that is causing the burping and other symptoms. Often, lifestyle changes can make a difference. But in some cases, medication or surgical procedures may be necessary.

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