The 2 Best Exercises to Help with Bloating, According to a Personal Trainer
Constipation and bloating are two common ailments that tend to go hand in hand. These issues run the spectrum from an annoying, puffy feeling to an intense, severe pain. Bloating can be caused by lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise, not eating enough fiber or drinking too little water. It can also be caused by sneaky things such as food intolerances or eating too quickly.
Related: The #1 Food to Fight Belly Bloat
No matter the reason for your bloating, you probably want the feeling to go away ASAP. The good news is that certain exercises can help you feel a little more comfortable. Two of the best forms of exercise to alleviate bloating and constipation can also be done from home with no equipment: walking and yoga.
Best Exercises to Help with Bloating and Constipation
Research suggests that mild to moderate exercise and simple diet changes can reduce bloating, the retention of gas and constipation and that yoga can be helpful in managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
How Walking Helps with Bloating
Numerous studies show that the simple act of moving helps with bloating and constipation. According to information from Harvard Medical School, because the colon responds to activity, people who exercise regularly don't face as many issues related to constipation as those who live a more sedentary life.
Walking is one of the easiest, most readily available and least expensive forms of exercise and it is an excellent choice for reducing bloating and treating constipation.
For the greatest benefit, go for a walk outside and combine the benefits of being out in nature with the benefits of exercise! Stuck inside? A treadmill or a set of stairs works just fine.
How Yoga Helps with Bloating
Stress, anxiety and tension can cause gastrointestinal distress, including constipation. And research has shown that yoga is an effective treatment to help prevent and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Yoga breathing techniques help with constipation in two ways. First, deep breathing engages the abdomen. And second, and maybe most importantly, using yoga breathing techniques can help relieve stress.
There are two easy ways that anyone can implement yoga breathing:
In the simplest form, pranayama breathing is focused breathing: taking time to focus on your breath. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your nose. Try to allow your breath to be an audible breath. If you were in a yoga class, you'd want the person next to you to be able to hear you breathe. Some call this the "sound of the ocean" or even "Darth Vader" breathing. Then add a count to your breathing. Inhale for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 1. Exhale for a count of 6.
The simple act of taking a few moments to focus on your breath can help to relieve stress. And when you're not completely wound up as tight as a drum, you might be able to relax and feel some relief from constipation.
Single-nostril breathing is another great way to relieve stress and refocus. You'll want to take your thumb and pointer finger. Place your thumb on one nostril. Breathe in through the open nostril. Place your pointer finger on that nostril, remove your thumb from the other nostril and exhale. Inhale through the nostril that you just exhaled from, place your thumb back on that nostril and exhale through the opposite nostril. Repeat.
This form of breathing is a fantastic way to relive stress by focusing on your breath. It makes you focus because you have to think about how you are breathing and which nostril you'll be using for the inhale and the exhale. It also is believed to provide a mental reset to improve focus.
With poses that encourage better posture and alignment and those that apply gentle pressure and twisting in the abdominal area, yoga is one of the best forms of exercise to prevent and treat constipation.
Studies show that gas retention that can cause bloating is worse when we are in a recumbent or reclined posture. They also show that symptoms are improved when we are in an upright position. For this reason, focus on yoga postures that have you in an upright, seated position or standing position. Try out these positions to relieve bloating or help release excess gas.
There are many other postures that can help with constipation—any twisting postures, postures that bring the knees toward the chest to apply gentle pressure, and postures that fold the upper body toward the lower body can all help with constipation since they promote movement throughout the abdominal area.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is to get moving! Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle are contributing factors to constipation and the bloating that accompanies it.
You can go for a walk or do these yoga postures anywhere, without equipment. They provide a safe, drug-free method to help alleviate some of the discomfort of constipation and bloating. Combined with proper nutrition and hydration, you should see some improvement in mild constipation relatively quickly using these methods.
While walking for exercise and yoga have been practiced for thousands of years and are generally considered very safe and healing forms of exercise, you should always consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen, especially if you are pregnant or have an underlying medical condition.