Stomach bloating: Five exercises to soothe your tummy swelling – have you tried these?

Stomach bloating is usually caused by gassing filling up the gastrointestinal tract. This can wreak havoc upon the digestive system, causing stomach cramps and a stretching sensation in the tummy. Cutting out gassy culprits can help to soothe symptoms, but exercising brings a host of health benefits in addition to banishing the bloat.  When choosing the right exercises, there are a number of factors to consider.

If you are quite bloated then definitely wait several hours after your meal

Carlos D’Souza, personal trainer

As personal trainer Carlos D’Souza explained: “After eating, blood flow increases to your stomach and intestines to help your body digest the food.

“If you exercise right after eating, blood flows away from your stomach and to your heart and muscles instead, meaning that the blood will move more sluggishly through your intestines.

“So, just be sensible with what you choose to do and when, listen to your body and be intuitive of what feels right for you.”

According to D’Souza, the following five exercises should soothe tummy swelling:


Walking is a great low impact activity for helping to battle bedtime bloating. You can take a gentle stroll within an hour after you’ve eaten a big meal and this can help to kick-start your digestion and your mood will also naturally improve after a 30-minute stroll through the park.

How does it help to de-bloat?

Walking can stimulate the gut and increase blood flow to the muscles in the digestive system. This helps food to move along the digestive tract more easily through a process called peristalsis.

Cardio Training

Cardio training is a sure-fire way to help you deflate your bloat.

Hitting a spin class, going out for a 30-minute run, or doing a boxing circuit of skipping and bag work are all ways you help to move your digestion along and get it back on track. Other high-calorie burning activities are the Aerodyne/Assault Bike, Elliptical Machine, or Indoor Rower.

If you are quite bloated then definitely wait several hours after your meal, before sending your heart rate soaring in the gym.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio and mix it up with varying work intervals and intensities. Your heart rate should be around 70-90 per cent MHR throughout your workout. Work hard but within your limits and build up a nice sweat, burning a decent number of calories in the process.

How does it help to de-bloat?

All of the above will boost circulation and help your body to expel any gas and trapped air within your digestive tract. Get your workout right and you should leave feeling refreshed, energised and with less of the tummy bloat that so many of us can suffer with from time to time.

Circuit Training

Completing a circuit of upper, lower and core training exercises, combined with resistance training and cardio will certainly help to get the blood flowing around the body, as well as relieving stress and tension throughout the whole body.

Incorporate a mixture of press ups, planks, battle ropes, squats, lunges, step ups and lots of different abdominal exercises. Vary the reps and order of exercises and have fun with it. Choose safe and effective exercises that are time-efficient and very effective, thus boosting your metabolism as well as reducing the bloat.

How does it help to de-bloat?

Performing circuit training will get lots of muscles engaged and working together, hitting the core muscles as well as the larger muscles of the lower and upper body. Working out in this way will get the blood flowing and get things moving along in your digestive tract for sure.

Core Training

Weakness within the stomach muscles can be a factor in bloating. Both mat and reformer Pilates is an excellent way to train your core stabilising muscles and re-activate them. Getting your TVA, obliques and rectus abs (think six pack muscles) all fired up together will get them tighter and looking more toned. The abdominals need a lot of training weekly to see and feel visible gains and should be trained extensively through a range of different exercises.

The beauty of Pilates is that it really does “shrink-wrap” your core. Pilates concentrates on the deepest layer of abdominals, which acts like an inner girdle. Imagine you are trying to fit into a tight pair of jeans, or wearing an imaginary corset whilst doing these exercises.

Here are some core training exercises to help with bloating:

Criss Cross Abs

Begin by lying on your back and tucking your knees into your chest. Place hand over hand at the base of your skull. Keeping your elbows wide, tuck your chin to your chest and curl up to the tips of your shoulder blades. While twisting your upper body, bring your left elbow to your right knee and extend your left leg to a 45-degree angle from the ground. Bring both knees back into your chest as you bring your body back to centre, still curled up with chin to chest. Repeat on the other side, bringing right elbow to left knee while the right leg extends. Come back to centre. Repeat seven more times on each side.

How does it help to de-bloat?

This move targets the obliques and will help to tone and tighten a distended and weak mid-section.

Side Plank

Start on your side with your feet stacked on top of each other and your bottom forearm directly below your shoulder. Engage your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to toe. Being careful not to let your hips drop, hold this position for 30 seconds or more, then repeat on the other side.

How does it help to de-bloat?

Another move for the obliques and muscles around the abdomen. Collectively, these exercises will help to tighten and tone your tummy.

Yoga and Deep Breathing

If you have poor posture to begin with, then a bloated tummy can become much more pronounced due to the forward tilting position of your pelvis (anterior pelvic tilt). Sitting a lot causes the hip flexor and psoas muscles to shorten and stiffen, thereby reducing hip range. When these muscles are tight it weakens the lower-back and glute muscles and causes your stomach to ‘hang’, so to speak. By stretching the muscles around your hips, you can help to pull your pelvis back in a more neutral alignment.

The following stretches & deep breathing techniques can help:

Knees to chest stretch

Lie down, relax and perform a few deep breaths. Place your hands on your knees and then hug your knees to your chest. Hold for around 5-10 seconds and then release both knees to the floor. Repeat a few times until you feel some change within the tissue.

Modifications: To vary the stretch, you can do one side at a time. Leaving your left leg extended, bring your right knee towards your chest and hold it for 10 seconds or so, waiting for a gentle release in the tissue. Then, switch to the other side. Repeat for as many times as you feel you need to. Also, be mindful of how it actually feels.

How does it help to de-bloat?

This stretch helps to release tension around the lower back area and when these lumbar muscles are tight, they can contribute to a pelvic tilt.

Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Kneel down on a soft gym mat. Bring your right leg in front and place your foot flat on the ground so that your knee is positioned directly over your ankle. Your left knee must remain in contact with the mat and should be bent at 90 degrees. Engage your core and slide your right foot forward a few inches slowly.

Squeeze your right gluteal muscles firmly and shift your hips forward so that your left knee is bent slightly more than 90 degrees. Hold the end position for 10 seconds. Complete 10 repetitions on each side.

How does it help to de-bloat?

This stretch really helps to lengthen tight hip flexors that are so commonly seen in anterior pelvic tilt.

Seated Forward Fold

Sit on the floor and stretch your legs out in front of you keeping your feet together. Keeping your back as straight as possible bend forward at the hips reaching toward your feet. Once you have reached as far as you can, take some deep breaths and slowly return to an upright position.

How does it help to de-bloat?

This pose provides a deep stretch for the entire back of the body, from the head to the heels. A nice release can be felt around the low back area whilst holding this stretch.

Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing

According to the NHS, in some people stress slows down digestion, causing bloating, pain and constipation. Deep breathing may help to relieve some stress and tension, indirectly aiding your digestion in some small way.

Sit yourself in a comfortable position, soften all of your facial muscles, close your eyes, and alternate deep inhaling and exhaling, keeping your spine nice and elongated throughout.

How does it help to de-bloat?

Deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress and anxiety, which some researchers believe may directly affect your digestive functions.

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