Hydrate before and after exercise to prevent fluid retention.
A bloated belly can make getting dressed and doing normal daily activities such as walking and even sitting uncomfortable. A benefit to exercising is usually achieving a flatter tummy; however, you could experience bloating when first starting to work out. This could be the result of hydration, diet, stress or a symptom of a serious medical condition. Speak with your physician if you experience any unusual or prolonged bloating with exercise.
To Stress or No Stress
Stress is a common trigger for bloating, according toPeter Whorwell, professor of medicine in Manchester's Wythenshawe Hospital. The stress hormone cortisol is released during periods of stress and over-training, which may result from engaging in physically demanding workouts too often with little rest in between. This is typical for people that feel they need to spend hours at the gym, as well as people that do too many high-intensity workouts back to back, according to Chris Kresser, a licensed integrative medicine practitioner. Cortisol causes the body to retain fluid, which results in bloating and a puffy midsection. Mitigate the effects of stress by taking up yoga a few times per week, cutting back on high-intensity workouts, scheduling two rest days per week and taking in deep relaxing breaths before, during and after your exercise workouts.
Drink up to Puff Down
Staying hydrated before and during your workout can keep a bloated belly away. If you aren't drinking enough water prior to exercise and then start sweating, you risk dehydration which will cause your body to retain fluid which leads to a puffy belly. "The Guardian" suggests drinking 2 liters of water per day to help eliminate food wastes and prevent slowed digestion leading to bloat. Hydrate before your workout by drinking a cup of water an hour prior to exercise. Stay hydrated during exercise by drinking four to six ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Note that this is a general guideline, and your individual needs may be different. Speak with a physician and/or experiment to determine what works best for you and your belly.
You Are What You Eat
Bloating may be the result of what and how much food you eat before your workout. High-fiber foods can expand in the stomach, leading to a larger and uncomfortable belly. If not broken down and digested, the food will sit heavy in the belly when you start to exercise. Eating too much food can cause digestive distress such as bloating when you start to work out because blood flow that is needed for digestion is now being diverted to the muscles to move and contract. This leads to bloating, stomach pains, constipation and/or diarrhea. Monitor what you are eating prior to workouts and avoid eating a large meal within two to three hours. If you want a light, energizing snack, keep it simple with half a banana, crackers or a date at least an hour or two prior to exercise.
Focus on Your Breath
Rapid, irregular breathing with exercise can cause you to swallow air, which leads to a winded, bloated tummy. Focus on breathing properly by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. If you find you are getting short of breath, stop, take a rest and take five to 10 deep breaths, forcing an exhalation through pursed lips. This can help break up air and gas bubbles trapped in the belly. Other air-swallowing culprits include drinking soft, fizzy drinks or carbonated waters prior to working out. Ditch these habits before your next exercise session to see if it keeps your belly flat and stops you from belching up air bubbles.