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Why Do I Feel Nauseous After Pilates?

author image Martin Booe
Martin Booe writes about health, wellness and the blues. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Bon Appetit. He lives in Los Angeles.
Why Do I Feel Nauseous After Pilates?
Pilates class can make you nauseous if you eat the wrong thing right before. Photo Credit pkanchana/iStock/Getty Images

Although exercise-induced nausea is not uncommon in some realms of physical activity, moderate forms of exercise such as Pilates are rather unlikely to cause it. Usually, this stomach discomfort has an underlying cause that even a relatively low-intensity pursuit such as Pilates might bring to the surface.

With its subtle mind-body focus, it's probably safe to say that Pilates would do more to relieve a tendency toward nausea than to push anyone towards it. While thus far there's no specific research examining the phenomenon, it's worth having a look at some possible causes for your tummy going on tilt after a Pilates class.

Read More: Nausea, Vomiting and Headache with Exercise

Exercising on a Full Stomach

If you have enough body awareness to even find your way to a Pilates studio, then you probably are aware that consuming a super-sized cheeseburger, fries and shake before class is going to have consequences. However, for some people, it's possible that even moderate food consumption could trigger nausea after Pilates.

In a study in the April 2011 edition of the journal Appetite, researchers compared people who performed both low- and high-intensity exercise on an empty stomach versus doing the same exercises 60 minutes after eating a beef patty. Both moderate and heavier forms of exercise were more likely to cause nausea when the subjects had eaten before exercising.

With its focus on the mind-body connection, Pilates is more likely to help you avoid nausea than to cause it.
With its focus on the mind-body connection, Pilates is more likely to help you avoid nausea than to cause it. Photo Credit muratemre/iStock/Getty Images


Certain medications -- prescription and otherwise -- can cause nausea, especially if taken before exercise on an empty stomach. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) are particularly prone to cause nausea. So if you're trying to power through an injury by taking these meds before Pilates, you might better off waiting until after your class.

Acid Reflux

Everybody has acid reflux at one time or another. It occurs because of a weakness or malfunction in the muscular band that normally closes tightly to protect the esophagus from acidic gastric juices coming from the stomach. Impact, motion and anything that causes compression of the stomach -- such as Pilates exercises -- can cause those acidic juices to splash upward into the esophagus. This in turn can irritate the sympathetic nervous system, sometimes causing nausea and vomiting.

Other Causes

Exercise-induced nausea -- along with vomiting, gastro-oesophageal reflux, heartburn and belching -- is a common occurrence for endurance athletes or those participating in high-intensity exercise like weight-lifting, running marathons or hot yoga styles such as Bikram.

This is usually due to factors such as heat exhaustion and dehydration -- none of which are typically present in a Pilates class. However, if you find that your Pilates studio is heated or that the instructor is driving you to the point of heat stroke, the best solution is to find a studio with better temperature control.

Read More: What Are the Causes of Nausea and Weakness After Exercise?


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