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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 May;35(5):730-5.

Esophageal reflux in conditioned runners, cyclists, and weightlifters.

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Oklahoma Foundation for Digestive Research, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.



Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a disorder in which gastric contents move from stomach to esophagus. Exercise is a recognized contributing factor to reflux in healthy volunteers and is reported to be proportional to exercise intensity and the type of exercise. Our aim was to explore changes in physiology occurring in conditioned runners, cyclists, and weightlifters.


Ten subjects from each sport with >3-month history of exercise-induced heartburn were enrolled. Subjects underwent evaluation of fasting and fed esophageal pH, heart rate, GI symptom, and perceived exertion during standardized exercise routines at 65% (60 min) and 85% (20 min) of their maximal capabilities.


Weightlifters experienced the most heartburn and reflux: 18.51 +/- 17.34% time esophageal pH </= 4.0 fasted and 35.81 +/- 34.33% time pH </= 4.0 fed. Runners developed mild symptoms and moderate reflux: 4.90 +/- 3.96% time pH </= 4.0 (fasted) and 17.16 +/- 7.90% time (fed). Cyclists exhibited mild symptoms and reflux: 3.97 +/- 5.44% time pH </= 4.0 fasting and 6.49 +/- 6.22% time fed.


Our study demonstrates that strenuous exercise induces significant reflux and related symptoms in conditioned athletes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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