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Dizzy After A Workout? Causes, Solutions & Prevention 101

by | Fitness Habits

Dizziness after a workout or any physical activity is one of the most common side effects an individual will experience after intense exercise.

If a recent fitness session has left you with lightheadedness, it’s normal to be concerned, but don’t panic straight away! Feeling dizzy after a workout usually isn’t a sign of anything serious. It often results from improper breathing or dehydration, but other factors can be the causes of dizziness after a workout.

Several factors can cause dizziness after a workout; some are very easy to address, while others need medical attention. This article provides tips on what causes dizziness after exercising and how to prevent it in the future.

Dizzy After A Workout - Causes, Solutions & Preventions Methods

Improper Breathing: Cause #1 Leading To Dizziness After A Workout 

 Dizziness or cerebral hypoxia occurs when not enough oxygen gets to the brain. Indeed, the body’s first reaction to exercise is increased heart rate and breathing pattern to flow more oxygen-rich blood throughout the entire body.

But if you aren’t correctly breathing when exercising, your heart may not be pumping enough oxygenated blood into your brain, and you may feel dizzy during or after the workout. Apply the basic recommendations below for proper breathing that maximizes the oxygen intake and minimizes the risk of feeling dizzy when or after exercising.

So How To Correctly Breathe When Working Out?   

 The gold standard of breathing methods is to inhale on relaxation and exhale during exertion when working out.

Also, it’s overall better to breathe through the nose rather than through the mouth.  Several studies show this, such as this International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science research report, demonstrating the superior efficiency of nasal breathing against mouth breathing.

So when exercising, don’t forget to breathe deeply and correctly, primarily with your nose, to maximize your oxygen intake and mitigate the risk of getting dizzy!

Insufficient Hydration: Cause #2 Leading To Dizziness After A Workout

Dehydration happens whenever you lose more water than what’s coming in. Insufficient hydration can cause various health problems, from urinary tract infections and kidney stones to even kidney failure. 

Under extreme circumstances, it can lead to some pretty nasty side-effects like muscle spasms, seizures, or even death! Not only does dehydration increase the risk of lightheadedness after working out, but it can also make you experience the following symptoms:

  • thirstiness (of course!)
  • dry mouth
  • fatigue

Drinking plenty of fluids is essential for preventing dizziness during and after a workout. Exercising in an overly-warm environment can also lead to dehydration, so taking precautions against the heat is another key to avoiding dizziness.

“If you’re feeling thirsty, it means you’re already dehydrated, and dehydration can lead to dizziness. So when working out, don’t wait to be thirsty to drink water! Drink water before, during, and after your fitness session.”

Improper Diet: Cause #3 Leading To Dizziness After A Workout   

The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function correctly. As a result, an improper diet can explain why you feel dizzy after a workout. A low carbohydrate intake or a low blood sugar level are common factors explaining dizziness during or after exercise.

Healthy foods high in carbohydrates can help build energy reserve. When we exercise, muscles consume more energy than usual, and during those first minutes of intense activity, they use up all the sugar floating around in our bloodstreams. Once that’s depleted, the blood sugar drops, and the body taps its reserves, drawing glucose stored (glycogen) within organs (glycogen) like the liver. Liver glycogen serves as a glucose reserve beyond muscles, particularly the central nervous system. So any case, if your brain starts starving for glucose, you may feel dizzy and experiment with other symptoms such as confusion and headache.

(Read more about The Role of Glycogen in Diet and Exercise and the glycogen metabolism for coaches and athletes).

“A balanced diet should include some healthy carbohydrates and some sugar. In reasonable quantities, they are key factors to prevent you from getting dizzy during or after a workout! So don’t go cold turkey with sugar and carbs!”

When Dizziness After A Workout Requires Medical Attention

If the dizziness is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or a headache, it may be a sign of a more severe condition, and medical attention should be sought. You may have an underlying condition that needs medical treatment even if, overall, you’re already a fitness superstar.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live” – Jim Rohn

Dizzy After A Workout: Why I Undertook Medical Exams   

I started experimenting more than lightheadedness after a workout in Nov-21 repeatedly. At first, I didn’t take some fainting experiences seriously, as some of my unhealthy habits could explain them; I don’t drink much overall, tend to skip lunch, and my daily sit-ups and push-ups workout is somehow intense even if it became a routine. After all, even if doing 100 or 150 push-ups in a row every day is overall a healthy habit, it can be lead to fitness burnout if not correctly executed (i.e., when pushing yourself too much). I was almost fainting in these circumstances and had to sit down and focus on not losing consciousness. On 24 Dec-21, I didn’t exercise, I didn’t fast, and God knows that I was not lacking sugar. It didn’t prevent me from collapsing in front of my family after dinner: this is why I suddenly stopped my daily workout for an extended period and took medical exams.

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