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Why Do I Feel Dizzy While Exercising?

by
author image Solomon Branch
Solomon Branch specializes in nutrition, health, acupuncture, herbal medicine and integrative medicine. He has a B.A. in English from George Mason University, as well as a master's degree in traditional Chinese medicine.
Why Do I Feel Dizzy While Exercising?
A woman not feeling well while running Photo Credit AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images

Feeling dizzy while exercising is a common result of not eating enough, dehydration and improper breathing techniques, but it is not something that is considered normal or healthy. In some cases, the dizziness is a sign of a more serious issue, such as high blood pressure or heart disease. Stop exercising immediately if you experience dizziness; you could lose your balance and fall if you don't.

Low Blood Sugar

Your body uses sugar in the form of glucose to fuel most of its functions. If you don't get enough to eat, your body will not have enough glucose, a condition referred to as hypoglycemia. It is a common condition in those with diabetes but can occur in people who don't have it. If you are exercising in the morning before eating breakfast or missing meals, your blood sugar will usually be low, which can lead to dizziness. Other symptoms, such as nausea, increased heart rate and trembling may also occur. Eating at least two to four hours before exercising can help avoid low blood sugar. If you forgot to eat a full meal, eating a smaller snack such as crackers or fruit before exercise can help. Dizziness that occurs during exercise due to low blood sugar can be remedied by drinking a fruit juice or other snack high in sugar.

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Lack Of Water

Not drinking enough water before, during or after exercise can lead to dehydration. When your body doesn't have enough fluids, it can't maintain proper function. In addition to losing water, you also sweat out electrolytes, particularly sodium, that helps maintain water balance. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, headache and a dry, sticky mouth. Drinking plenty of water before, during and after will help avoid dehydration. Avoid drinking too much, as overhydration can also cause problems. A general rule is to drink when you are thirsty, which many athletes don't do. Drinking electrolyte-enhanced water or sports drinks after exercise will help your body absorb fluids more efficiently.

Improper Breathing

If you are overexerting yourself or are not used to exercising, your breathing may be too shallow or too rapid. This can lead to dizziness, weakness or the feeling that you are going to faint. If you find that your breathing is too rapid, decrease your level of activity or stop to rest. According to the American Heart Association, you should be able to have a conversation while exercising. If you cannot, you are working beyond your limits. Different activities require different breathing techniques. Consult a trainer certified in your field of activity for recommendations on proper breathing techniques.

Medical Issues

In some cases, your dizziness may be caused by an underlying medical disorder or certain medications, particularly blood pressure medication. Heart disease and inner ear problems are common disorders that can lead to dizziness. If you have a known issue or your dizziness does not go away after self-treatment, contact a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Warning

If you experience dizziness during exercise, stop whatever you are doing and rest. Keep your head above your heart and do not lie down. Sitting on a chair or walking around may help. If dehydration or low blood sugar is the probable cause, drink water or eat a small snack. If the dizziness does not respond to drinking fluids or eating something and does not go away after an hour, contact a doctor. Seek immediate medical attention if you have dizziness along with one or more of the following symptoms: chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness, inability to move an arm or leg or a change in vision or speech.

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