Feeling Light Headed After Exercise: Causes and Preventive Measures

It is not uncommon to feel a bit dizzy and light headed after strenuous exercise. The light headedness felt after exercise can make you unsteady, or you may have a feeling like you are going to faint and the room is spinning. This is usually temporary and needs little of concern.

Causes of Lightheadedness After Exercise

Light headed after exercise

The main reasons for feeling light headed after exercise are:

1.      Lack of Fuel

The body needs energy to perform, and during exercise, more energy is required. There are energy stores in body which are utilized during exercise and when these get exhausted, a feeling of lightheadedness can be experienced. 

2.      Medications Taken

Some medicines, including the ones used to maintain blood pressure, can cause dizziness and lightheadedness especially after a workout. 

3.      Blood Pressure Dropping

During exercise, the heart works harder and pumps more blood into the blood vessels, and the blood vessels then dilate to accommodate this extra blood. When you stop exercise, the heart starts beating normally but the blood vessels will have to take some time to readjust. This leads to a drop in blood pressure which is one of the main reasons why you feel light headed after exercise.

4.      Lack of Oxygen

During a workout, the muscles need more oxygen than usual. Breathing becomes hard when you are working on chest muscles and abs, and it is common to hold breath while doing the last few bench presses. This can lead to a lack of oxygen in blood and can make you dizzy and lightheaded.

Warning: Feeling a little dizzy or light headed after strenuous exercise is not a major issue, but if it happens during exercise and doesn’t get better in a few seconds, it needs to be investigated and taken seriously. It can be an indication of a heart condition requiring immediate treatment. You must stop all exercise and contact your doctor immediately.

How to Deal with Lightheadedness After Exercise

Lie down and keep your head above the heart if you experience light headed after exercise. This way the blood supply to the body will return back to normal and you will feel better. Having a glass of water or a snack like an energy bar or chocolate can also be very helpful.

If the feeling persists and the symptoms become severe in intensity, do contact your doctor for further evaluation.

How to Prevent Lightheadedness After Exercise

  • Slow down gradually: It is extremely important to slow down gradually while finishing any workout or exercise. This helps the body to readjust and brings down the heart rate steadily. If you abruptly finish any exercise, you can feel dizzy and lightheaded.
  • Keep the body hydrated and consume a nutritious diet: It is advised to take at least two cups or 16 oz. of liquids two hours before any exercise. Also take some complex carbohydrate snack half an hour before you start your workout. You can have milk, a banana or peanut butter sandwich.
  • Breathe properly during workout: Breathing properly ensures adequate oxygen supply during exercise. When you tend to hold your breath while working out, you can feel dizzy afterwards. Breathe properly and never hold your breath.
  • Consider your medications: If you are on any regular medicines, it is important to know whether or not they are causing the feeling of lightheadedness. Discuss with your doctor and read the information booklet carefully. If the dizziness is due to the medicines you are taking, your doctor can guide you about how to combat this side effect.
  • Do not over-exert yourself: The best strategy to avoid all these unwanted symptoms is to know your limits and never over exert yourself during exercise. Know your target heart rate zone and stay within the limits.

You can calculate your target heart rate zone by the simple formula, subtract your age from 220 and multiply the answer by 0.5 and 0.85. This will give you the range of target heart rate. Try to keep your heart rate in the middle of that range during exercise.

Other People’s Experience

I tried different exercises and noticed that I was fine after yoga but after doing aerobics I felt light headed. Then I realized that it was due to lack of oxygen, and I did not get that feeling after yoga because more focus was put on breathing during it. Having a snack beforehand also helped.

Last month I felt really dizzy and light headed after exercise. I was really concerned and went to see my doctor. She explained that this feeling of lightheadedness and nausea can be due to multiple reasons and I was probably over exerting myself. Dehydration, fatigue, low blood sugar level or any bacterial or viral infection can also lead to the similar symptoms. She said that if the symptoms get better and do not occur during the exercise, there is nothing to worry about, but I should keep myself well hydrated, slow down gradually while finishing a work out and try to avoid over exertion.

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