We all know that exercise is incredibly good for you, and for so many reasons, but did you also know that it can also bring relief to a myriad of stomach issues and reduce the frequency of tummy aches? So why is it that often after a gruelling workout session, instead of viewing a flat belly in the mirror, we notice that our bellies have ballooned up?

The cause is easy to explain and even easier to rectify. Here are some of the most common causes of after workout belly bloat and how you can fix them:

  • Not breathing properly

    Sometimes it can be easy to forget breathing while you exercise. Strenuous physical exertion which involves a lot of core engagement is crucial for core strength and stabilization and spin protection. Forgetting to breathe can prevent you from enjoying these benefits and you may even end up with a bad tummy ache. So, make sure you concentrate on your breathing while exercising. A common rule of thumb would be to exhale while you exert your body, for example when you are pushing in a push up and inhale when you are “relaxing”, which in this case would returning to your starting position.

  • Spot training and frequent core workouts

    When you do more than a hundred crunches per day, you aren’t only killing your abs, but you’re making your workouts less effective too. Firstly, spot reduction is a myth. So, if you’re trying to improve your midsection with thousands of crunches and situps, we have some bad news for you: it doesn’t really work! You’re working your muscles, but you’re making no attempt to reduce your fat which can be best done with cardio and other high-intensity workouts.

    Back to the main concern, bloating. Common culprits of bloating include too many Russian twists, side planks, crunches and situps. Many people experience belly bloat and stomach discomfort if their workouts include these exercises – but why?

    Note that ab exercises improve blood circulation to digestive organs but not stretching can tighten the abdominal muscles (in a bad way) and slow down the circulation and movement in this area resulting in digestive issues.

    In order to loosen the muscles in your abdominal region, it is important that you stretch after core exercises. You can even perform some excellent yoga poses for this purpose, which include the camel pose, the bow pose and the cow/cat pose.

  • Not keeping yourself hydrated while exercising

    Next time you visit the gym, try counting the number of people who don’t have a water bottle and make sure you’re not one of them. Not taking regular sips during your workout can cause dehydration and its symptoms. While exercising, you lose water through sweat. Continual activity will compel the body into driving water out of vital organs, particularly the kidneys and the liver. This can result in stomach bloat, tummy pain and gas.

How can you fix tummy bloat outside the gym?

Apart from correcting your exercise errors, there are some ways to prevent bloat at home by making a few lifestyle and diet changes:

  • Walk home from the gym.

    If your house is not too far, walking may help relax tensed muscles and boost digestive performance. You get to burn some extra calories too!

  • Drink more water.

    Fluid retention is a common cause of belly bloat but this can be easily reduced by having more water. Drinking plenty of water will regulate sodium levels and improve bowel movements.

  • Have ginger every day.

    Ginger is a popular remedy for nausea, but research also suggests that it may help prevent bloating. Ginger consists of phytonutrients which improve digestive problems.

    Tip: try this ginseng, ginger and almond tea recipe.

  • Avoid common triggers.

    Common bloating foods include milk and gluten. Many people are lactose intolerant; so, having milk can cause more than just trouble in your waistline. Some sensible substitutes can be soymilk, almond milk and Greek yogurt (the straining removes most of the lactose). Similarly, if you’re gluten intolerant, reducing foods such as wheat and rice may help. Other common culprits of stomach bloat and gas include carbonated drinks, alcohol and chewing gum.

  • Have more stomach-friendly foods.

    These include citrus fruits, watermelon, turkey, fish, eggs, lentils and green tea.

  • Incorporate more cardio into your routine.

    Most people tend to underestimate cardio in an attempt to pile on more muscle. However, research shows that cardio doesn’t only burn fat, but it amps your metabolism, increases digestive function and boosts brain function too, so get to it and enjoy a firmer, flatter belly!

Shomaila Issam

Shomaila is a fitness-loving, clean-eating, keyboard-stabbing bookworm. Being involved in a sedentary lifestyle, she enjoys releasing her frustration through exercise, especially Pilates, and sharing her thoughts via the interwebs.

2 Responses to “3 Exercise Habits That Cause Bloating”

  1. Wzy

    Too many workouts are obsessed with horizontal conditioning now …..planks, mountain climbers etc. Enough already …..& yeah, it may not be for everyone, but doing this too often makes me look a bit thicker.

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