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How Exercise Affects the Symptoms of a Hiatal Hernia

A common medical condition known as a hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the upper stomach pushes through an opening in the diaphragm muscle and into the chest. When someone breathes in through their lips as opposed to their nose, something happens.

Hiatal hernias are most common in older persons, but age isn’t the only condition that can put a person at risk for developing one. It is also possible for the diaphragm to become strained as a result of continuous heavy lifting and coughing, in addition to the effects of lifestyle variables like smoking.

When a hiatal hernia is present, symptoms are typically absent. Hiatal hernias, however, can occasionally result in stomach acid leakage into the esophagus, which can be quite unpleasant. Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux are terms used to describe this illness.

If you do suffer from acid reflux as a result of a hiatal hernia, you may find that some exercises make your symptoms worse.

Hiatal hernias come in two different subtypes, which are as follows:

Hernia glissante – A hernia glissante happens when the area above the diaphragm is invaded by the upper portion of the stomach and the lower portion of the esophagus. The most common form of hiatal hernia is this particular one.

Hernia paraesophageale – Also known as a paraesophageal hernia, this condition occurs when the upper portion of the stomach protrudes into the area located above the diaphragm. This occurs relatively infrequently, but if the stomach folds in on itself it can have significant consequences. Additionally, it may cause bleeding from the stomach as well as difficulty breathing.

The symptoms of a hiatal hernia can be alleviated to some degree by decreasing weight, which is also an effective method for managing many persistent health concerns.

However, some exercises may exacerbate your hiatal hernia by placing stress on the abdominal region or by bringing on symptoms like heartburn, chest pain, and others.

You do not have to completely abstain from exercise; nevertheless, you will want to put your attention on routines that will not make your hernia worse. It’s crucial to talk with your attending physician about the following matters before starting an exercise regimen.

Is it possible for me to exercise?

In general, you can continue working out even if you have a hiatal hernia. Exercising can help you reduce weight, which, if necessary, is another step toward improving your symptoms.

You do not need to change your workout routine in any manner if you have been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia but are asymptomatic, that is, you are not feeling any symptoms. Keep in mind that this is a crucial point.

On the other hand, high-intensity activities may make your acid reflux symptoms worse if you have a hernia and are already experiencing symptoms similar to those of acid reflux.

If you want to know what makes your symptoms worse, you might have to experiment with different levels of physical exertion before you can figure out what causes them.

For instance, if you run for thirty minutes and then start to have heartburn, you should try switching to a walk-run program for thirty to forty-five minutes instead (run 2 minutes, then walk 2 minutes, etc.).

The following are examples of exercises that should not be done if you have a hiatal hernia:

  • walking
  • jogging
  • swimming
  • cycling
  • yoga that is either gentle or modified and does not include inversions

Hiatal hernia symptoms can be alleviated with the use of specific exercises and stretches.

If you search the internet for “natural” ways to treat a hiatal hernia, you may come across websites that recommend the food in addition to certain activities that are intended to strengthen your abdominal region.

It is unclear whether strengthening activities may genuinely treat a hernia or whether they can only help you feel better by reducing the symptoms of the condition. In any event, you might want to discuss the following workouts with your primary care physician.

Activities that help build strength in the diaphragm

Deep breathing exercises, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, are at the core of this practice, which aims to improve oxygenation and circulation. These exercises, when performed over a longer period, may even assist strengthen the diaphragm muscle. One way is as follows:

  1. Lay down on your back or sit in a posture that is comfortable for you, and place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
  2. Take a few breaths in and try to inhale so deeply that you can feel the pressure of your tummy against your hand.
  3. After holding, let out your breath and notice how your stomach moves away from your palm as you exhale. Repeat numerous times throughout each day.

Hiatal hernia treatment with the practice of yoga

Yoga poses that are low-impact and gentle can be helpful for hiatal hernia in a few different ways. To begin, practicing these techniques of deep breathing might help strengthen your diaphragm. You’ll also notice a general gain in your strength as well as your flexibility. It is believed that certain poses, such as the Chair Pose, can assist strengthen the abdominal region without putting undue strain on it.

You should make it a point to inform your yoga instructor about your condition so that they can assist you in modifying the practices. You should steer clear of any inversions that could make your symptoms even worse. The Bridge and the Forward Fold are two examples of them.

Workouts geared for reducing body fat

If you have a hiatal hernia, losing weight could help improve your symptoms. Together, nutrition and exercise are two of the most effective ways to bring about the calorie deficit necessary for fat loss. It is possible that over time, as you lose weight, you will experience a reduction in the severity of your symptoms.

Alterations to one’s diet and lifestyle are other options for the treatment of a hiatal hernia.

It may be difficult to prevent a hiatal hernia, particularly if you have risk factors or if you were born with a large opening in your diaphragm. If you were born with a large gap in your diaphragm, it may be impossible to prevent a hiatal hernia. Nevertheless, there are routines you may get into to assist reduce the severity of your symptoms, such as the following:

  • quitting smoking with the assistance of your physician, who can devise a smoking cessation plan that is tailored specifically to your needs
  • not lying down after having something to eat
  • preventing heartburn by avoiding items that can cause it, such as onions, tomatoes, spices, and caffeine
  • avoiding wearing belts and garments that are too tight, as this might cause acid reflux worse.
  • By raising the head of your bed by between 8 and 10 inches, you can get a better night’s sleep.


Hiatal hernia is a very common ailment, and although the symptoms might be an annoyance at times, the condition itself is very frequent. By the time they reach the age of 60, it is estimated that approximately sixty percent of individuals have had Hiatal hernias.

If you have symptoms similar to acid reflux because of a hiatal hernia, strenuous exercise may make those symptoms worse for you. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t completely discount the benefits of physical activity.

If you need to lose weight, certain workouts, particularly cardiovascular routines, can assist you in doing so and also improve the symptoms you’re experiencing. The diaphragm may benefit from the assistance of others.

In particular, if this is your first time working out, you should consult a physician before beginning these activities. They can also assist you in establishing a routine that allows for incremental improvements to be made to it.

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