Feeling bloated? These 5 exercises can help

From gentle stretches to sweaty circuits, these five exercises can help with digestive or hormonal bloating.

When the heavy, tight sensation of bloating hits, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. It makes complicated work out of choosing what to eat and drink (are fibre-rich vegetables helpful or a hindrance, for example?) and tight clothes and a knotted stomach can distract you from your work. 

If you regularly struggle with digestive issues like bloating or IBS, you know that only too well how tricky the search for relief is. But before you try complicated tinctures, start with the basics: movement. 

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What you do will depend on your body, how you’re feeling and how much you think your body can withstand. Often, that all comes down to the root cause of your issue – for example, is it to do with hormones, stress, something you’ve eaten?

“When I am bloated because of my period, I don’t want to run or jump around. Instead, I find doing strength-based workouts that work up a sweat, or a really relaxing stretch, the most beneficial,” says Emma Obayuvana, fitness trainer from the Strong Women Collective. 

“When it’s more of a food-related issue, or just one of those days where you wake up and everything just feels a bit tight, I think that cardio can be useful. But you need to match the intensity of your workout to the intensity of your bloating – for example, if you’re experiencing discomfort, a gentle walk focusing on distance rather than pace might be better than a run.”

One 2006 paper found that mild physical activity helps with “intestinal gas clearance and reduces symptoms in patients complaining of abdominal bloating”.

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If you think your digestive issues could be caused by stress, it might be wise to keep the exercise on the lighter side. “Doing a form of exercise that puts more stress on the body isn’t the best option if you’re already feeling overwhelmed. You might want to look at doing lower-intensity training, which is less demanding on the body and brain,” explains personal trainer Sam McGowan.

Best exercises to get rid of bloating

If you can only manage a stretch…

Happy baby pose 

This is a really gentle stretch for the hips and lower back while massaging out the stomach.

  1. Lie on your back and bring the knees into the chest. 
  2. Take hold of the ball of each foot (if you can’t reach that far, hold your ankles or calves). 
  3. Open your legs wide, keeping the knees close to the body but extending the heels towards the sky. 
  4. You can stay still here or gently rock from side to side to make the move more dynamic. 

Hold for 30 seconds


This translates to wind removing pose so is great for when gas is causing your bloating.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended out straight and your arms by your side.
  2. Hug one leg in towards the chest and hold it in with both arms.
  3. Slightly turn the leg out so that the knee comes towards the shoulder. Point the toe of the leg that’s out straight to stretch through the front of your hip.

Hold for 15 seconds each side

Supine spinal twist

  1. Lie on your back and hug one knee in towards your chest.
  2. With your opposite hand, pull the leg across the body and down the floor.
  3. Try to get your knee to touch the ground without lifting your shoulder too far off the ground.

Hold for 15 seconds each side

If you fancy something slightly more intense…

Try doing these exercises as a superset (one after the other without a break) for three or four rounds.

Plank to downward dog

  1. Start in a high plank position, with your shoulders directly over your hands and your belly button being pulled in towards your spine. 
  2. Slowly lift the hips up towards the sky, pushing your chest to your thighs to come into a downward facing dog. Make sure you are engaging your core the whole time. 
  3. Hold there for a couple of seconds, then push yourself forward back into a high plank position. 

Repeat for 30 seconds to one minute


  1. Whether you do it with or without weights, add some slow and steady squats in to get the glutes and core working while raising the heart rate. 
  2. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. 
  3. Tuck your tailbone, lift your chest and bend your knees to lower down into a squat. 
  4. Hold at the bottom of the movement for a few seconds, then push through your heels to come back to standing.

Repeat for 30 seconds to one minute

When you want to sweat it out…

  • Try a run, a brisk walk or a cycle
  • Try a full-body strength training session, such as a weighted workout from the Strong Women Training Club 
  • Try an AMRAP core challenge

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Images: Getty

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