Feeling dizzy while exercising is not something that should be considered normal, but in most cases, it is not associated to serious issues, either. Here's what might be causing it and how to prevent it in the future.
Common Causes Dizziness after exercise is sometimes caused by the workout itself—particularly if you pushed the limits and worked harder than usual. For example, hyperventilation (rapid breathing) can cause you to become lightheaded.
1. Dehydration Dizziness and nausea can be symptoms of dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much fluid and can't adequately replace it.
With any form of exercise, fluid will be lost from sweating, however in moderate to intense physical activity, the fluid loss will be much greater. If you did not hydrate adequately prior to exercising and during your workout, you might feel lightheaded. 2. Low Blood Sugar
Sugar in the form of glucose is the fuel that our body needs for most of its functions. If you don't get enough to eat, your body will not have enough glucose, a condition referred to as hypoglycemia. If you are exercising without eating enough, your blood sugar will usually be low, which can lead to dizziness. Other symptoms, such as nausea, increased heart rate and trembling may also occur. Eating at least two to four hours before exercising can help avoid low blood sugar.
3. Low Blood Pressure
If you quickly go from lying to standing during exercise (e.g., burpees), you may feel a little dizzy. This phenomenon is known as orthostatic, or postural hypotension, and it affects people with low blood pressure more intensely than others. According to Heather Milton, MS, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, board-certified clinical exercise physiologist and supervisor at NYU Langone Sports Performance Center in New York City, rapidly changing positions creates changes in blood pressure, which may cause dizziness in some people. “Going from a horizontal position, where you have increased blood flow to your heart, to a vertical position would decrease blood return to your heart, so that can drop your blood pressure a little bit,” she explains.
4. Improper Breathing
Smooth and efficient breathing is crucial for delivering the oxygen our bodies need to perform functions properly. Proper breathing can also help athletes exercise longer with less effort, and even calm the mind. If you are overexerting yourself or are not used to exercising, your breathing may be too superficial and/ or too rapid. This can lead to dizziness, weakness or the feeling that you are going to faint.
Tips to Avoid Dizziness During or After Exercise
1. Plan Snacks and Meals
If you usually work out in the morning before breakfast, that may mean your body hasn't had any fuel since dinner the night before. Instead of working out on an empty stomach, eat a light breakfast—preferably one that contains protein, complex carbohydrate, and some healthy fat. For example, try peanut butter on a banana or avocado on whole-wheat toast. This advice also applies if you exercise right after work and before dinner. Food is fuel. If you don't have enough fuel in your system, you won't have the energy to keep up with the demands of your workout. Good on-the-go options include sports bars and trail mix.
2. Stay Hydrated
Dizziness and nausea are also both symptoms of dehydration. The importance of staying hydrated when you exercise cannot be stressed enough. Moderate exercise rarely requires all the glucose and sodium found in sports drinks. A healthy dose of water before, during, and after your workout will do the trick.
3. Slow Down
Postural hypotension usually indicates a sudden drop in blood pressure. If you experience dizziness often when exercising, consult a health care provider. If a head rush is only an occasional occurrence, the best fix is to take your time when changing positions. If there's a particular exercise that you know gives you that feeling, try moving through it more slowly or just leave it out of your routine.
4. Steady Your Gaze
Another cause of a motion sickness-like sensation during exercise is letting your gaze drift as you're moving. In most exercises, the head is held in line with the spine and the gaze is level from there. If your eyes are wandering or off-center as you are moving, it can make you feel disoriented. Pick one spot to look at rather than letting your eyes become unfocused.11
5. Use Targeted Breathing Practices
Many exercises, including swimming, weightlifting, yoga, and Pilates, coordinate breath with movement. When done properly, this practice can have a calming and integrative effect. It can also help you avoid feeling unwell from a lack of oxygen.