Exercise Induced Nausea: Causes, Treatments & Prevention

If you are into high-intensity interval training, you may be wondering why you feel nauseous after your workout. Many people want to hurl after completing a serious sweat. They think there is something serious going on there, but nausea after exercise is more common than you might think. 

Causes of Exercise Induced Nausea

So many things can contribute to nausea after workout. To fix the problem, you first need to identify the underlying cause of trouble in your case. Here are some of the possible causes:

1. Intensity Level

While you can feel nauseous after working out at any intensity, you are more likely to experience the problem after high-intensity exercise. Moreover, you may feel queasy after a workout if you are anxious or have nervous excitement while working out. These emotions could easily lead to an upset stomach irrespective of your intensity level.

Quick fix: Consider reducing your speed and intensity until you feel normal again. Things return to normal when you stop moving quickly. Just understand that taking a step back for a few minutes is usually better than pushing yourself hard even when you are not feeling great.

2. Dehydration

One of the most common causes of exercise induced nausea is dehydration. When you exercise, blood flows towards larger working muscles. Your digestive system suffers greatly if you are not properly hydrated. This can affect your GI tract and make you feel nauseous.

Quick fix: The simple solution to this problem is to increase your fluid intake. You should be drinking water before, during, and even after your workout. You may also want to include some hydrating foods in your diet to avoid becoming dehydrated while working out.

3. Diet

What you eat before a workout will have a huge impact on how you feel during the workout. You are going to feel queasy and deal with all sorts of problems if you eat a large meal before your workout.

However, it does not mean you should not eat anything before you exercise. Working out on an empty stomach can also cause problems because there will be only water in your empty stomach sloshing around to cause nausea, and you may already have low blood sugar levels and working out will make things worse.

Quick fix: Pay attention to what you eat before, during, and after every workout.

  • Be sure to limit the amount of food you eat before your workout – opt for a good mix of carbs, healthy fats, and protein.
  • It is a good idea to have a small snack about half an hour before you start your workout – it is especially beneficial if you do not eat for a long time before starting your workout session.

4. Hormones

It is true that exercise increases levels of endorphins and lowers levels of cortisol. However, these hormonal changes can affect your GI tract and produce symptoms like nausea during exercise. Experts are of the view that certain hormones released during exercise also trigger the release of catecholamines that lead to a delay in gastric emptying.

Quick fix: The best way to deal with this problem is to take a step back. Wait for some time and then start your workout again.

5. Fitness Level

You are likely to experience exercise induced nausea if you push yourself a little too hard. However, you are at a greater risk of experiencing these symptoms if you are an endurance athlete, like long-distance cyclist or marathon runner. This happens when you try something more advanced when you are still at a beginner level.

Quick fix: To avoid any discomfort, be sure to move slowly and improve your fitness level in stages. Know exactly what your fitness level is and then slowly move up from there.

6. Medication

Not following your doctor's instructions while taking medications may as well be the reason why you feel nauseous during or after exercise. Avoid taking higher doses of anti-inflammatory medicines, such as naproxen or ibuprofen. These medications can lead to nausea during exercise.

Quick fix: Do not exceed the dosage your doctor has recommended. If you really have to take anti-inflammatory medications, be sure to take them after your workout session.

How to Prevent Exercise Induced Nausea

You can handle things better if you already know what causes nausea in your case. Here are a few tips to help you feel better and prevent exercise-induced nausea.

1. Manage Temperature

You should avoid working out in extreme heat. Not paying attention to temperature may result in heat stroke or heat exhaustion. You are likely to experience nausea and other problems if your body temperature goes beyond 104° F. Always exercise in a gym where you can control the temperature.

2. Change Intensity Carefully

You should not jump from an intermediate workout plan to an advanced workout plan in a few days. Let your body adjust to the workout you are doing and then shift gears. Engaging in strenuous workouts may help you burn more calories but it takes toll on your body and makes you feel lightheaded. Understand that it is better to build your strength over time and change frequency and intensity only when your body is ready.

3. Keep Your Body Hydrated

Under no circumstances should you be exercising if your body is not properly hydrated. Dehydration can cause all sorts of problems, including exercise induced nausea. If you are already dehydrated, you are going to feel worse because you sweat and lose water during exercise. Be sure to drink at least 7oz of water every 20 minutes of exercise. You do not need to go for sports drinks; plain water usually works great.

4. Take Time to Cool Down

Do not just finish your workout session abruptly. Your heart pumps blood as per your intensity level. It continues to do the same when you stop abruptly. This can cause nausea. Be sure to stop your exercise gradually to give your body time to regulate your heart rate. 

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