Fit Tip: Beat the Belly Bloat

Posted On Nov 5, 2020 By Amy Kiser Schemper

A man holding his belly in discomfort.

We’ve all been there before: we eat a big holiday meal, rich with seasonings and spices and deliciousness, it all tastes divine going down then an hour or so later…bleh. BELLY BLOAT. Tight-fitting clothes, tummy full of gas, and just feeling uncomfortable—all things we’d like to avoid on our holiday break.

First, let’s take a look at what causes belly bloat. It’s generally a buildup of excess gas or air in your gastrointestinal tract. Food allergies and intolerances as well as other digestive orders are the most common causes, but it can also occur from swallowing air by eating too fast, chewing gum, or constipation. Even stress and anxiety can contribute to an upset GI tract.

Avoiding high sodium and high sugar foods, carbonated beverages, artificial sweeteners, and staying hydrated with water can help prevent bloating. But this can be tough to do, especially around the holidays. That’s why if you do find yourself feeling gassy and full this season, one of the best remedies is to get off the couch and get moving! Physical activity helps promote gas release and healthy digestion in most people.

Even though you may not feel like moving, exercise may help relieve your symptoms quicker than waiting it out. But don’t lace up your running shoes or put on your favorite HIIT workout video or grab your heavy weights: high impact or high intensity exercises may not help with belly bloating, and may even make symptoms worse. Instead, opt for some lighter options that get your body moving and abdominals working to move things along digestively, and help you feel better overall. Here are a few options for you to try:

Low impact cardio: Walking, light jogging, or taking stairs are great ways to get things moving through your digestive track. Taking in too much air may increase symptoms, so aim to keep your heart rate low, and focus on steady breathing.

Yoga poses and Pilates movements: The slow, controlled movements of yoga and Pilates both relax our bodies, and release tension, both for our muscles and our insides. Many yoga and Pilates moves also involve torso rotations or twisting, which helps move things along and relieve pressure. There’s actually a yoga move called “Wind Relieving Pose” to try if you dare (it’s a great back stretch as well).

Abdominal exercises: While it may seem counterintuitive to work your belly when it’s uncomfortable, making the muscles contract and release will help push air and gas out of your system. Opt for rotational movements such as the Russian Twist, flexion like a sit-ups or bicycle crunches, and extension with a Superman lift.

As if we needed more reasons to exercise, improvements in digestion not only help our bellies, but our quality of life. Not to mention help us achieve that flat tummy we all desire. Enjoy that holiday meal, and then get moving to feel good after!

Looking for more exercises to beat that belly bloat? Check out this video!

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