Exercising and Blue Fingernails

Exercising helps to improve blood flow to vital organs and improve your cardiovascular health. If you are experiencing symptoms such as blue fingers, fingernail beds, lips or skin when you exercise or overexert yourself, this could be a sign of a serious medical condition.

If you are experiencing symptoms such as blue fingers while exercising it could be the sign of a serious medical condition. (Image: Matthew Leete/DigitalVision/GettyImages)

If you have a pre-existing medical condition which affects your oxygen levels, you may notice the bluish tint, which is called cyanosis. Consult a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosing Blue Fingernails

If you are experiencing blue fingernails, you should seek medical care before beginning a workout. Blue tones to the skin could indicate a life-threatening condition such as a heart attack or embolism. It may also precede feeling lightheaded and fainting. Exercising may make the condition worse in life-threatening cases involving the heart and lungs.

Significance of Blue Nail Beds

Generally, exercise is recommended as a way to improve your health. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

If you have any type of medical condition that affects your heart or blood flow, you may experience a blue hue to your fingers or your nail beds —especially during and after exercising. This is because the oxygen saturation in your blood is low. You can test oxygen saturation rather easily with a fingertip pulse oximeter. Normal readings range from 95 to 100 percent, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Blue Fingernails and Exercise

There can be several causes of blue fingernails that result from exercising. Some of the most common include lack of oxygen being pumped by the blood through the heart, abnormal hemoglobin, lung disease and heart disease, explains MedlinePlus.

If your heart is unable to properly pump blood into your bloodstream — especially during a workout, you may first notice the bluish tint to your nail beds. Other medical conditions could also be the cause, such as pneumonia, asthma, pulmonary hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Exercising in cold temperatures can cause blue fingernails. Warming your hands or massaging your fingers should return your nails to their normal color rather quickly if this is the cause of your cyanosis.

Blue Nails: Causes

Blue nails causes can include a relatively harmless condition called Raynaud's phenomenon that mimics cyanosis. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this condition is caused by smaller arteries in the extremities that restrict or limit blood supply, leaving behind a bluish color in the fingers. Exercising may help to force blood flow to the area and restore a normal color to the skin.

Seek Medical Attention

When your fingers, nail beds or extremities turn blue or purple, you may also experience other symptoms. Cold hands, fingers and extremities are common with bluish hues and you may also feel the area go numb.

If you are experiencing trouble breathing, chest pain or severe chest congestion, you should stop exercising immediately and wait for your symptoms to subside. If they persist, seek emergency medical care.

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