Why do I get lightheaded during exercise?

Do you ever feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous during or after exercise? It is a common result of dehydration, not eating enough, improper breathing, or medical conditions such as low blood pressure, low blood sugar levels, or even heart conditions.


How do you know if you haven’t drunk enough?

– There’s the obvious feeling of being thirsty. Not drinking enough before, during, or after a workout can lead to dehydration. When your body doesn’t have enough fluids it can’t maintain proper function. When you sweat you do not just sweat out water but electrolytes too, particularly sodium, which helps maintain water balance.

– Another indication could be fatigue – if you feel tired at the beginning of a workout, it could be a sign that your body isn’t correctly fueled. Make sure to drink enough beforehand.

– Cramping easily during a workout and having a high pulse can also be signs of dehydration.

Low blood sugar

Your body uses sugar in the form of glucose to fuel most of it’s functions. Hypoglycemia is when your body has low sugar levels. It is a common condition in diabetes, but it can occur to anyone. Your blood sugar levels dip and spike throughout the day based on the foods you eat and how quickly your body breaks them down. It is recommended to eat a full meal at least two to four hours before exercising, or to eat something light enough for your stomach to handle and digest before exercise, but substantial enough to keep your blood sugar stable. It’s always handy to bring a couple of dates, or fruit juice with you to your workout to restore glucose levels if necessary!

Low blood pressure

Some people with low blood pressure (hypotension) feel no symptoms while exercising, whereas others may experience dizziness, sweating, visual blurring. nausea, or even fainting. Blood pressure can drop as a result of standing for a long period of time, being dehydrated or overheated, and exercise. If you have low blood pressure, do not avoid exercise! It is important to keep physically fit which helps circulate the blood around the body. Just make sure to take the following precautions:

– Avoid exercise positions where your head is positioned below the heart, or level with the heart (supine position).

– Start your exercise routine slowly and slow down gradually at the end. Don’t dive straight into it at full intensity, and don’t stop suddenly in one go at the end.

Improper breathing

Although breathing is an automatic process, we often see people holding their breath during strength training or ‘forgetting to breathe’. If your breathing isn’t synchronized with what you’re doing, you might not be letting enough oxygen in and letting enough carbon dioxide out. When weight lifting, exhale on the exertion. During cardio – breathe smoothly with deep full breaths. Try to avoid quick shallow breathing. Rapid short breathing can elevate your heart rate, making you work that much harder.

Medical Issues

There are however, cases whereby your dizziness may be caused by an underlying medical disorder or by certain medications, particularly blood pressure medication. There are other disorders that can lead to dizziness, such as heart disease and inner ear problems. If you have a known issue or your dizziness does not go away after self-treatment, it is recommended to contact a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

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