Can a few simple moves help to ease bloating?

Can a few simple moves help to ease bloating?


We’re told that exercising is good for bloating and discomfort, but it’s often the last thing on your mind when you’re in pain. Here’s our guide to some gentle moves to help you feel better, fast.      

It’s a fact that bloating affects many of us on a daily basis. Whatever the cause, whether it’s food intolerances or your period, it’s pretty miserable to feel uncomfortable for hours on end.

Often, slight bloating is a normal reaction to eating and isn’t a cause for concern. When we eat, our gastrointestinal tract can become filled with gas or air – a result of swallowing air while chewing – or as a reaction to the food itself. Some foods are known to create more gas than others, which is why some meals may leave you unbuttoning your jeans faster than others.

But besides living in elasticated leggings, there are some simple things we can do to ease the symptoms of bloating, and moving our bodies is one of the best ways to get some relief. 

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How can exercise help to ease bloating?

“Regular cardiovascular exercise offers myriad health benefits, especially when it comes to bloating,” advises David Wiener, training and nutrition specialist at fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics. 

“Not only can it help to relax you and improve both the nervous system and digestion, but it can also help expel gas that causes pain and help move digestion along. Stretching and strength training can also help with bloating, strengthening the abdominal muscles and ensuring they work optimally to move food through the stomach more quickly.”

We’re not suggesting you run a marathon – nobody wants to do that with a sore belly – but if you feel up to some gentle exercises, these can really help. 

Yoga and pilates movements

If you’re really struggling and the thought of doing anything other than lying on the sofa brings you out in a cold sweat, you could try some gentle yoga or pilates moves. It’s well known that stress can exacerbate digestive symptoms, so the benefits of these practices are two-fold as you can relieve some discomfort and address an underlying cause all at the same time. 

“The best yoga poses for bloating are ones that stimulate your internal organs,” advises Natalie Lake, a yoga coach and founder of the Second Bloom app. “There are lots to choose from, but some of the best are cat/cow pose, which massages your stomach muscles; a standing forward bend, which stimulates the liver and kidneys; a seated forward bend, which helps to improve digestion; and knee to chest, which is great to clear wind.”

Downward dog can ease digestive issues and bloating

Downward dog to cobra

Who doesn’t love a downward dog? And with good reason, as Lake advises: “Downward facing dog is great for improving digestion.” Wiener agrees that it’s a really underrated exercise “It can help relieve all kinds of tension in your body, especially in the midsection, helping with bloating. Performing this move can give the ultimate stretch to your core, which in turn will help relieve bloating symptoms.”

How to do it

  1. Start in downward dog with your hips bent, and arms and legs straight
  2. Keep your hands shoulder width apart
  3. Always keep hips and knees off ground
  4. Keep arms straight and bring chest through hands
  5. Lift chest and look up
  6. Push back into downward dog

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If you’re up for something a little more strenuous, we have you covered. 

“The twisting motion in this move is perfect for relieving the inflammation we get through bloating,” explains Wiener. “While you are twisting, your abdominal muscles are gently working and you are increasing the mobility in your core and digestive organs. It is the ultimate bloating reliever.”

How to do them

  1. Start seated with knees bent, only glutes touching ground
  2. Keep feet and knees together
  3. Lean upper body back
  4. Keep arms straight
  5. Twist as far as possible to one side
  6. Return to centre
  7. Repeat as required

Lunge and reach 

“Adding a little twist or reach to the traditional lunge is great to increase the flexibility of your core, with the added arm movement deepening the stretch,” explains Wiener. “As you’re stretching upwards, you’re giving your stomach space to fully stabilise itself, while also keeping your body upright. This is a great exercise for helping to relieve tension and any ‘stuck’ feelings in the stomach.”

How to do them

  1. Start in high lunge position, left foot forward, right knee lifted
  2. Place right hand on ground level with left foot
  3. Touch the ground with the left elbow, if possible
  4. Twist to reach upward with the left hand
  5. Alternate sides

Side plank hold 

Having a stronger core can help to keep your gut healthy and get things moving. “The more you strengthen the muscles in your stomach, the more ableyou are to cope with excess gas,” advises Wiener. “Side planks are a great exercise to really strengthen the muscles in the abdomen, while also stretching out your core.”

How to do them

  1. Start with the left elbow on the ground below the shoulder
  2. Keep the right foot on top of the left
  3. Keep head, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet aligned
  4. Keep right hand above the shoulder, arm straight
  5. Swap and repeat on the other side

Plank to climbers

“As you start in a plank position, the continuous, swift movements of your legs help to stretch out and create space for your spine and core,” explains Wiener. “During this exercise you are working on your flexibility and stability, which is also great for relieving inflammation in your core.”

How to do them

  1. Start in high plank, hands below shoulders, feet on the ground
  2. Keep arms straight
  3. Keep head, shoulders, hips and knees aligned
  4. Touch the ground with one foot at hand level
  5. Land with hips lower than shoulders
  6. Bring the other foot up as the front foot jumps back

Images: Getty

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