Why would aerobics trigger heartburn?
BY: Eric Butterman
If you suffer from heartburn, you may find that aerobics makes your heartburn worse. Heartburn occurs when acid in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. Normally, this shouldn’t happen, because a valve at the base of your esophagus (called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES) is supposed to act as a one-way door that allows food into your stomach then closes shut to keep anything from traveling back up. But if you have a weak LES, it’s like a door that doesn’t close all the way, allowing acid to sneak back up and cause heartburn.
Aerobics can trigger heartburn because this type of exertion can put pressure on your stomach, which in turn puts pressure on your LES. You may not think your stomach is involved when you do aerobics, but almost every time you move your body, you engage your core muscles. Watch yourself extend your arms, says Dr. Mark Davidson, a gastroenterologist and attending physician at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Aren’t your abdominals being extended as well? Take a couple of strides -- can you feel your stomach moving? Sometimes that extra abdominal pressure is enough to overwhelm a weak LES and push acid back up.
But that doesn’t mean people with heartburn shouldn’t do aerobics. Instead of cutting out aerobics, try low-impact activities like walking or biking, or just take a high-intensity workout down a notch.
Eric Butterman has written health articles for more than 20 publications, including Glamour, Men’s Fitness and Shape. Eric is a frequent contributor to Live Right Live Well.