Dizziness After Workouts: Common Causes and Prevention Tips

Pushing yourself when you're exercising can help you see the results you want. But sometimes, overexerting yourself, not staying hydrated or exercising in the heat can lead to dangerous repercussions, particularly if your workout makes you feel dizzy, nauseated or faint.

Stop exercising if you feel dizzy. (Image: Obradovic/E+/GettyImages)

By understanding your risk factors for feeling dizzy after exercise, you can prevent the feeling from ruining a good session at the gym. However, if symptoms persist, see your doctor.

Dizzy After Workout

Feeling dizzy after a workout can have a variety of causes. One of the common causes of feeling faint after a workout is simply overexerting yourself. Pushing your body too hard can result in your heart working too hard and not getting enough blood to your head.

You may also feel dizzy if you haven't been hydrating your body during exercise or have been exercising in the heat. As part of the cooling response, the blood vessels throughout your body dilate. The dilation of the blood vessels in your brain can lead to dizziness.

Dizziness may also be the result of exercising on a continual motion machine, such as an elliptical or a treadmill. Upon stepping off the machine, you may experience vertigo, or the sensation you're still in motion when you've stopped.

Dizziness Risk Factors

When you consult with your health care practitioner about your postworkout dizziness, she will likely evaluate your risk factors to determine the cause of your dizziness. Being overweight or out of shape can lead to dizziness, as can exercising in warm environments and being dehydrated.

Dizziness can also be caused by a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This vestibular disorder typically comes on suddenly and is caused by movement of crystals in your inner ear. BPPV can be treated by specially trained physical therapists.

Treatments for Dizziness

If you feel dizzy while exercising, stop immediately. Continuing to exercise while feeling faint could lead to tripping, falling and injuries. Take a break. You may find it helpful to sit down with your head between your knees as you restore blood flow to the head.

If you feel dizzy while exercising on a machine, hold tightly to the rails and slow your pace until it's safe to get off. If you're away from home and are dizzy after a workout, wait until the feeling passes before trying to drive.

Dizziness Prevention Tips

Preventing a dizzy spell can help you avoid a workout that's cut short by lightheadedness or a longer recovery than necessary. By allowing your body to properly warm up to strenuous exercise, you give your heart time to adjust to the change in the need for blood to your muscles.

Proper hydration— to the tune of 7 to 10 ounces for every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise — and exercising inside when it's above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, can help you avoid dizziness from heat and dehydration.

Finally, if you constantly have issues with BPPV, talk to your doctor about exercises that can help improve your balance and exercise with a friend who can help you in the event of a dizzy spell.

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