Health & Fit Feeling Nauseous After a Workout Is a Problem, Not an Honor
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When it comes to working out, there are a lot of things we expect after a killer session: sweat, soreness and a flood of feel-good-endorphins are just a few. One after effect that may seem out of place, though, is the urge to throw up. But exercise-induced nausea, as it is called, is not as uncommon as you may think. It’s also just what it sounds like, a feeling of sickness with the inclination to vomit shortly after exercise. Research shows that it is common inof folks who engage in sport-related activity.
Yes, vigorous workouts such as HIIT, indoor cycling, heavy resistance training, and running sprint repeats can definitely make you feel like you want to hurl. Andof those who engage in endurance sports, (think ultramarathons) experience nausea. That doesn't have to keep you from doing them. Take a look at the reasons you might feel nauseous after a workout—there's no single cause. It could be what you're doing, might be what you're eating, and the weather might even have something to do with it.
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“During an intense workout, the heart, lungs, and muscles require a much larger volume of blood and the body diverts blood away from the nonvital processes of the body to support the increase demands of the muscles, lungs and heart,” explainsa sports medicine physician at Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute and the team physician for Atlantic City Soccer Club and Orlando Pride. “Decreased flow to the stomach and the intestines can slow down the motility of the gut and can cause discomfort or nausea,” he says. Some people are more sensitive to it than others.
If you find yourself feeling sick after a workout, check out these causes—and the expert-approved solutions.
A new workout may make you feel nauseous
You may also be susceptible to nausea if you’re just getting started in a new workout. “When an individual does a new, challenging workout, a feeling of nausea can be an indicator that this level of intensity is beyond your current level of fitness,” explains, MD, director of the Endurance Medicine Program and assistant professor of Clinical Orthopaedics at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Backing off the intensity and gradually building toward that level is a much safer method for reaching that level of fitness than simply repeating the same workout until you can complete it without symptoms.”
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Your eating habits may cause nausea
Fueling properly for a workout is key. If you’re having a full meal, it’s best to eat about three to four hours before your sweat session. Just a snack? One to two hours will do. Cut it any closer and your stomach may bear the brunt. The same can be said if you skip meals or carbs. Not having enough nutrients in your system, says., professor of kinesiology at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama, can lead to a drop in blood glucose, which can also make you want to puke.
Just as the timing of your meals can have repercussions, so can the types of foods, particularly if you nosh on something that is high in protein or high in fat. “It’s harder for the stomach and intestines to break that down and so it moves slower through the gut,” explains Dr. Mullner, “and now we are slowing it down even more by decreasing the blood flow, and so it just leads to further problems.” The severity of your GI issues, according to a research in the journal, depends on the intensity of your exercise as well as your food intake. Foods or fluids high in sugar—including fruit juice—can also upset your stomach and cause indigestion during a hard training session or race. Dr. Miller recommends diluting fruit juices and most standard sports drinks by about 50 percent with water to decrease this risk.
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The temperature may make you feel nauseous
If it's hot out, nausea can signal heat illness; and sometimes it's a heat illness that you need to treat right away. There are a range of issues, including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat rash, and heat cramps, that fall under the heat illness umbrella. Essentially,is caused when the body gets super-hot and is unable to effectively dissipate the heat, which raises your core temperature. In the case of heat exhaustion, which is caused by too few fluids and long hours in high temperatures occur.
So whether getting bendy in a hot yoga class, making your way through hot and humid outdoor miles or busting out burpees in a boot camp in the park, exercising in the heat can cause dehydration, explains Olson. Even if it’s not extra hot out, you can still be at risk if you’re sweating a lot and you’re not well hydrated.
When is nausea a cause for concern?
The key is to look for patterns to help determine if what you are experiencing is normal or not. If you feel nauseous every once in a while, then likely this isn’t a huge issue. However, if it starts happening every single time you work out, it persists more than 30 minutes to an hour after you exercise, or if you throw up and you find blood in your vomit, Dr. Mullner says you should see a doctor. If your constant state of queasiness is also accompanied by dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and a particularly altered mental status, get medical help quickly—these can be signs of heatstroke or even a heart attack.
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How to keep workout-related nausea at bay
If you do find yourself nauseous during a workout, Dr. Mullner suggests slowing down or stopping exercise all together. He also recommends sitting or lying down and putting your feet up. This can help return blood flow back to the center of your body and to your gut.
Hydrate, but don’t sip too much too quickly. “You want to take small sips and you want it to be room temperature fluid—too cold or too hot can also irritate the stomach a little bit,” he says. You might also consider sucking on a piece of hard-candy, Olson says, similar to what people with diabetes do when their blood sugar plummets. Or, try eating a piece of fruit, if you can stomach it.
For runners specifically, remain standing upright after crossing the finish line of a race or workout. To chase away that nauseous feeling even more, try walking with your arms elevated above your head to expand your chest and torso, advises Dr. Miller. “Consuming water or a low-sugar sports drink to re-establish proper hydration particularly on a hot day, and cooling down in the shade after initially resting with your feet elevated can help relieve the symptoms from a hard effort,” he says.
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