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Exercise, Light-Headed and Arms Tingling

by
author image Meredith Crilly
Meredith C. has worked as a nutrition educator, chef and community health projects since 2011. She received a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from the University of Tennessee and is currently completing an MS/DI program in nutrition.
Exercise, Light-Headed and Arms Tingling
A man is wiping sweat off his head. Photo Credit marinovicphotography/iStock/Getty Images

If you have become light-headed or felt tingling in your arms during exercise, you are probably concerned about your health. Although you may not have a health condition if you experience these symptoms, you should treat them seriously. Light-headedness and tingling in your arms while exercising are abnormal, and you should see your doctor to determine whether these symptoms indicate an underlying disease or condition.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Minerals present in blood and other body fluids play a role in regulating body chemistry, muscle contraction and other processes. These minerals -- sodium, calcium, chloride and potassium -- are called electrolytes, and they must be present at certain levels for normal functioning. During exercise, your body excretes sodium in sweat and uses up calcium stores to support active muscle. When your electrolyte levels are depleted or unbalanced, you may notice light-headedness and tingling as well as muscle spasms and fatigue. Maintaining hydration or replenishing electrolytes during exercise can alleviate these symptoms in some cases, so drink plenty of water or consume a recovery drink or supplement during your workouts.

Inadequate Circulation

During exercise, your body requires increased amounts of oxygen and nutrients that are transported through your bloodstream. If your heart and circulatory system cannot keep up with the demand, you may become light-headed and dizzy or feel tingling in your extremities. In some cases, poor circulation may be caused by simply not exercising enough or being overweight. Exercising at a slower intensity or for a shorter duration may help decrease these symptoms. You should also see your doctor, however, because poor circulation can be the result of an underlying medical condition as well.

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Vitamin deficiencies are often to blame for fatigue, dry skin and other problems, so you shouldn't be surprised if the light-headedness or tingling you experience during exercise has a similar cause. Iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies are common but may not always be easily diagnosed because stores of these nutrients decrease slowly in the body. Because both iron and vitamin B12 are responsible for the number, size and function of red blood cells, deficiencies in these vitamins can change the capacity of the blood to meet the needs of working muscles during exercise. Numbness and tingling are common symptoms associated with low levels of these nutrients, although other vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also be culprits. Changing your diet or taking a multivitamin often resolves vitamin deficiencies easily.

Other Causes

Light-headedness and tingling in your arms during exercise can have other causes as well. Individuals with nerve pressure, diabetes, hypoglycemic episodes and multiple sclerosis often experience these sensations. Additional causes may be certain medications or hormonal changes. If you begin to experience these symptoms on a regular basis, talk to your healthcare provider to determine their cause and assess their seriousness.

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