There are things that we all do as humans that are still somehow associated with shame from a social standpoint. A prime example is farting or passing gas.
While we all pass gas multiple times per day (and night!), farting while running, farting while walking, farting in the gym, or farting while working out are all particularly common, yet embarrassing, instances where you might pass gas even more so than usual.
In fact, if we had a special power to read people’s minds, we would be privy to the fact that almost everyone has asked at least one of the following questions in the secrecy of their own private thoughts:
“Why do I fart when I run? Why do I fart when I walk? Why do I fart when I work out? Why do I fart when I exercise? How do I stop farting when I walk or work out?”
In this guide, we will discuss why it is common to pass gas during workouts, common causes of farting when walking or running, tips for reducing gas, or the need to pass gas during exercise, and ultimately answer your question, “Why do I fart when I walk?”
We will cover:
- Why Do I Fart When I Walk?
- Why Does Exercise Make Me Fart?
- How to Stop Farting During Workouts
Let’s get started!
Why Do I Fart When I Walk?
Research suggests that people pass gas around 8-14 times per day on average, though up to 25 times per day is considered normal by health experts.
Farting while walking, running, or working out is indeed common and generally considered normal, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any less embarrassing, particularly if you are in a group workout class or running with a couple of close friends on a quiet trail.
Farting during yoga is so common that it’s almost become a cliché that yoga studios smell like feet and farts!But outside of yoga, the notion of farting during workouts seems to be more tacit or taboo to discuss, yet the truth is many people want to know:
“Is it normal to fart more when I work out? Is farting in the gym or when running common? Do people fart while walking more than they do sitting still?”
Generally, the answer to all of these questions is yes.
Now, let’s answer, why do I fart when I run, or why do I fart when I work out?
Why Does Exercise Make Me Fart?
Here are some of the most common reasons why you pass gas while walking, running, or working out:
#1: Physical Activity Stimulates Your Bowels
The main reason that it’s common to fart during exercise is that working out, or moving your body, can stimulate your bowels.
The intestines can be thought of as a very long, coiled hose.
However, unlike a regular garden hose, the intestines are lined with smooth muscle that contracts involuntarily (via the autonomic nervous system) to create wavelike contractions called peristalsis.
Peristalsis is ultimately what helps move ingested food from the stomach through the digestive tract all the way until it is eliminated from the body through the colon, bowels, and then the rectum as feces.
When you lie down or sit still, some peristalsis will still occur, but getting up and moving your body around generally stimulates stronger and more frequent wavelike contractions in your intestines.
This can push along pockets of air towards the rectum, which will escape as flatulence, or what we call passing gas or farting.
You may notice that you fart more while lifting weights, twisting, bending, stretching, doing yoga, or jostling your stomach while running or doing other types of vigorous exercise because all of these movements put pressure or stretch/kink areas of the intestines in your abdomen and stimulate the entire gut.
As gut motility increases, the trapped air will be forced along to escape so that you might fart while working out, weightlifting, walking, etc.
In contrast, one of the common problems for bedridden individuals or those who are in the hospital is constipation.
A lack of general mobility of the body or moving around can decrease stimulation to the intestines and bowels, which can slow digestion, cause constipation, and lead to gas pains because air gets trapped in the intestines, and you aren’t moving around enough to fart it out.
#2: Working Out Increases Intra-Abdominal Pressure
One of the common questions is: “Why do I fart when I squat, or why does squatting make me fart?”
Farting while lifting weights—particularly heavy weight lifting—is relatively normal.
When you perform max squats or other weightlifting exercises, you usually perform the Valsalva maneuver.
This involves holding your breath while you perform the exercise to help brace your core.
This increased intraabdominal pressure can force out any gas that’s already in your intestines.
The result is that you pass gas while squatting or lifting weights.
#3: Your Breathing Patterns Change
Much in the same way that chewing gum can cause bloating, burping, and flatulence because you swallow more air while chewing, a reason why working out can cause farting to increase is because you may swallow more air or breath with a different pattern when you exercise.
When your heart rate increases during exercise, your respiration rate increases.
If you’re gulping in more air, the air gets trapped in your intestines and has to be released. This is why you might suddenly start farting more when you’re running or exercising vigorously.
Alternatively, the farts might come later on after the air works its way through your digestive tract, causing you to fart after working out.
#4: Dietary Issues or the Wrong Pre-Workout Fueling
It’s probably not surprising that what you eat before and during your workout can affect how gassy you are when you work out.
According to the Mayo Clinic, certain foods can increase gas production, which will cause more farting while working out.
Particularly if you have a food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance, you’ll experience more gas, bloating, and diarrhea after working out (and during) as well as during the rest of the day.
Other common dietary culprits of excessive gas include:
- High-fiber foods
- Raw vegetables
- Dairy products
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugar alcohols
- Excessive coffee or caffeine
- Chewing gum
- Fruits and vegetables that are high in FODMAPS, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols
FODMAPS are short-chain carbohydrates that are fermentable fibers metabolized by the bacteria in your gut.
Foods high in FODMAPS (such as raw cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, onions, garlic, leeks, beans, and lentils) can result in gas, bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation, especially if you eat these foods before your workouts.
#5: You Have an Underlying Health Condition
While it’s normal to pass gas up to 25 times per day and farting when walking, running, or working out is expected to some degree, there can be underlying health issues that may cause you to “fart too much” or have excessive gas.
Examples include celiac disease, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and food intolerances.
You should speak with your doctor or work with a nutritionist if you’re concerned about farting too much or having excessive gas during exercise or daily life.
How to Stop Farting During Workouts
Given the various causes of farting while working out, it’s not likely that you can totally prevent passing gas while running, walking, or working out.
After all, passing gas is normal, and farting more during exercise is natural.
That said, here are a few tips for how to stop farting as much while working out:
- Try to use the bathroom before running or doing your workout.
- Walk or do an easy warm-up before jumping into more vigorous exercise.
- Avoid sports drinks and pre-workout supplements with artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and excessive caffeine.
- Cut back on fiber and simple carbohydrates before exercise.
- Drink plain water instead of carbonated beverages, especially before and during exercise.
- Avoid protein bars with sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners.
- Cut back on dairy or foods that cause you gas.
- Breathe through your nose as much as possible, and try to use slow and controlled breathing rather than gulping air.
- Don’t chew gum when you work out.
- Try not to be sedentary most of the day or for long periods of time so that you’re only really moving your body during your workouts.
- Eat slowly and chew your food fully.
- Consider taking a probiotic supplement.
- Try a few trunk twists and toe touches in private before going into a workout class to pass some wind before getting in a group setting.
If you are experiencing bloating after exercise, check out our guide to common causes of bloating after working out here.