Exercise is important for people of all ages! Our bodies produce muscle, burn fat, gain energy, and send happy signals to our brains when we exercise. However, if you suffer from dizzy spells during or after your workout, these benefits may be short-lived. This guide will help you understand the causes of your dizziness, what to do when you feel dizzy after a workout, and how to prevent it. For even more wellness tips for older adults, be sure to check out our website.
Causes of Dizziness
Dizziness after a workout can be due to a few factors. Below are some of the most common factors attributed to exercise-induced dizziness.
The term acute refers to any pain or symptom that is temporary and short-lived. Acute dizziness would describe dizziness caused by exercising, other forms of physical exertion, or standing up too quickly. Acute dizziness from these things will go away rather quickly but can still be a scary and debilitating symptom and can even lead to falls and injuries.
The causes of acute dizziness can range from standing up too quickly to exercise. This is due to the shifting of blood that takes place during your workout. Your blood may rush to one part of your body during a specific exercise, and this can result in a decrease in blood pressure.
When our body’s blood pressure gets too low or too high, receptors near our hearts send signals to the brain to pump more blood and restore our blood pressure. So, after your workout, your heart is working double-time to circulate blood throughout your body. However, the feelings of dizziness may result from this lowered blood pressure and lack of blood flow in our bodies.
Dehydration can also cause acute dizziness after exercise. That’s because if you don’t have enough water in your system, your blood volume and pressure decrease. Because of this decrease in pressure, the baroreceptors send signals to your brain to stimulate heart activity and restore blood volume. However, if you are exercising while dehydrated, you will likely feel dizzy while waiting for your blood volume to return to normal. Another contributing factor to this is sweat loss during exercise. If you’re sweating profusely but neglecting to replenish your body’s water supply, you may feel dizzy as a result.
Long-lasting or chronic forms of dizziness are present if you feel dizzy all the time, often without any stimuli. Especially if this dizziness has persisted for longer than six months, it is likely chronic dizziness. Some examples of chronic dizziness include vertigo, severe anxiety, and low iron levels. Dizziness can also be the result of a medication you are taking. There are a variety of diseases and medical conditions that may be contributing to your dizziness as well. Those who have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) experience an increased heart rate after sitting down and standing up suddenly. Parkinson’s and hypoglycemia can also include dizziness in their list of symptoms. Bradycardia, heart valve complications, diabetes, and thyroid imbalances can also result in feeling dizzy.
What to Do When You Feel Dizzy
Exercise has a number of vital benefits for our bodies, so it’s important to find ways to cope with and move past dizziness and find exercises that minimize dizziness. Here is a list of things to practice if you feel dizzy during or after a workout.
Breathe. If you’re standing up at a treadmill or performing bodyweight exercises, sit down on the floor and close your eyes. This can help relieve your dizziness. Take slow, controlled breaths in and slowly let them out. Take your time with this breathing exercise, breathing for at least 3 minutes, and wait until you feel completely reset to resume your workout.
Cool Down. Dizziness could be caused simply by overexertion. If you feel dizzy during or after your workout, take a few minutes to cool down. Catch your breath and take a sip of water, waiting for your heart rate to slow down significantly before you resume your exercise. If you typically only experience dizziness after your most intense exercise sessions, consider scaling them down a little. It’s alright to push yourself, but it’s also important to ease your body into this and push yourself slowly.
Drink Water. Drinking water can help replenish the blood volume in your body and speed up the rate at which your blood pressure returns to normal, so it can help you recover from dizziness quickly! It’s also important to stay hydrated, especially during physical exercise, so drinking water is never a bad idea.
Eat a Snack. You may also be suffering from low blood sugar. Especially if you exercise in the morning before you eat breakfast, it is likely that you feel dizzy because your blood sugar levels are low. Take a break and eat a banana or granola bar before resuming your workout. If you work out in the mornings, eat a nutritious breakfast to fuel your body beforehand.
Put your head between your knees. A long-trusted remedy of dizziness and wooziness is sitting down with your head between your knees. This increases the rate of circulation in your body, which means it brings oxygenated blood to your heart faster than standing up would.
How to Prevent Dizziness During a Workout
There are some exercise variations you can perform to minimize dizziness while still receiving the benefits of exercise! A large contributing factor in exercise-induced dizziness is the gravitational challenge most exercises present. For instance, burpees are a fast-paced, highly gravitational exercise involving standing completely straight with your arms in the air one second and being flat on the floor the next. While burpees are beneficial to muscle growth and overall health, they may not be ideal for someone who struggles with dizziness.
Exercise Physiologist Michael Crawford finds that aerobic exercise is best for people who suffer from acute dizziness. Aerobic exercises have a much lower gravitational challenge and can reduce the causes of dizziness during a workout. Aerobic exercises can include anything where you remain seated or standing. Here are some examples of exercises that can minimize dizziness.
- Rowing on the rowing machine
- Seated elliptical machines
- Seated leg press machine
- Seated bicep curls or triceps extensions
- Seated core workouts
Here are some physical activities to avoid as well.
- Avoid exercises that require you to lie down, such as leg lifts or scissor kicks
- Avoid getting up from a seated position too quickly
- Avoid yoga mat exercises (unless it’s yoga from a chair )
- Avoid any exercise you have to do from the floor
How Often You Should Exercise
Crawford recommends exercising three days a week, resting every other day. Slowly ease yourself into a fourth day, ideally after about three or four weeks. If you want to add a fifth day, wait a few more weeks, and you can slowly integrate an entire five-day exercise routine. Ideally, you will be able to work out for 45 minutes a day, but starting at 20 minutes and adding five minutes to your routine every two weeks is a good way to ease yourself in.
Crawford also stresses the importance of warm-ups before a workout. If you experience dizziness from your workout, the warm-up and cool-down period are some of the most determining parts of your routine. He recommends a progressive warm-up for the first five minutes. After your warm-up, you may move to the conditioning phase, which is either strength training or a cardio routine.
Other Things to Remember
As you are exercising and trying to minimize dizziness, focus on moving your head as little as possible. If you have to get up, get up slowly and focus on controlling your movements and breathing. If you do feel dizzy, take a break. Drink some water, take deep breaths, and only resume when your dizziness subsides.
When to See A Doctor
If you feel dizzy for no reason, experience dizziness for prolonged periods of time rather than just a few minutes, or if you experience dizziness accompanied by chest pain, headaches, or other symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. You could be suffering from an iron deficiency, low blood pressure, or another serious disease that requires treatment or medication.
No matter what age you are, there is a multitude of benefits to exercising regularly. Exercise can improve cognitive function, decrease depression, promote flexibility and ease of movement, and promote muscle gain. However, if you experience dizziness after a workout, it may be difficult for you to reap the benefits of exercise. Stick to the tips in this guide, and you will be better equipped to deal with exercise-induced dizziness. Also, be sure that you aren’t deficient in any important vitamins and minerals by eating a healthy balanced diet and supplementing with a nutrient-rich multivitamin! Always talk to your doctor about any dizziness that comes on for no apparent reason or that lasts for more than a few minutes.