Why do I feel faint when I work out? A very common question. You might feel like you’re the only one asking it, but it happens far more frequently than you think. Your heart races, your vision goes out of focus. You feel shaky and might even have a cold sweat form. It’s a scary feeling and when it happens as you try to exercise, it can make you want to give up on physical activity altogether.
Why Do I Feel Faint When I Work Out?
Though this isn’t an uncommon experience, it’s no mystery why you might feel discouraged by it. The thought of repeating what made you feel that way in the first place certainly wouldn’t be appealing. For this reason, it’s important to get to know what could be behind why you feel faint when you work out. That way, you can take the right action to keep up your healthy physical activity safely and far more comfortably.
Reasons You Might Feel Faint When You Work Out
The following are some of the reasons you might feel faint when you work out. Consider each one, and if you think it might be the culprit, you might try adjusting your exercise habits accordingly. That said, to know for sure, the best idea is always to talk to your doctor. The odds are that it’s nothing serious, but for the sake of your own safety while exercising, it’s a smart move to check it out.
Low Blood Pressure
Even if you don’t usually have low blood pressure, there are lots of things that can make it tank temporarily, causing you to feel dizzy, shaky, or like you will faint while working out. As you exercise, your body focuses on sending more of your blood flow to your working muscles and your heart. This diverts a bit of it from heading to your brain.
The result can be that you feel faint while working out. This is exacerbated if you have low blood volume after giving blood, from being dehydrated, or from a recent injury. None of those factors are required for this to happen, but they can make it worse. You might also experience what is called Exercise Associated Postural Hypotension (EAPH) if you are suddenly exercising after having been sedentary for a while. This is especially common if you stand after having been bent over, sitting, or lying down.
To avoid this, rise carefully, stay hydrated, and don’t push yourself too hard. Give yourself time to recover after previous workouts.
Passing Your Cardio Limit
Attempting to push yourself too hard and do too much is another common reason for feeling faint while working out. This can lead you to feel faint, dizzy, nauseated or might even lead to vomiting. High intensity exercises are particularly common causes of this sensation. Pay attention to the signs your body is sending you and when it feels like you’re reaching a certain limit, respect that and ease off a little. Nothing is stopping you from trying again but err to the side of safety.
As you exercise, you sweat – lightly or heavily, it’s happening, even in water while swimming. This fluid loss affects your blood volume, as mentioned earlier. If that happens, it can cause your blood pressure to drop, which makes you feel faint when you’re working out. It’s exceptionally important to stay hydrated while exercising and to know the signs of dehydration, as dehydration can rapidly turn from inconvenient to dangerous.
Dehydration and overheating often go hand-in-hand and are a common cause of making you feel faint while you’re working out. The body is forced to work a lot harder to regulate your temperature when it’s hot out or when you’ve been exercising for a long time or at a high intensity. As you lose fluids through sweating, it becomes even more difficult for your body to achieve temperature regulation, while simultaneously struggling with the issues associated with dehydration.
Get to know the signs of overheating and pay attention to how you’re feeling. On very hot days or if you’ll be pushing yourself with your cardio workout, make sure you’re in a cool environment outside or are in air conditioning inside. Take a rest when needed.
Though the aforementioned issues are the most common reasons you might feel faint while you’re working out, heart problems will also contribute. If you have a pre-existing heart condition such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, are more than 50 pounds overweight or other cardiovascular issues, make sure you take those factors into account as you choose your exercises.
Quick Tips for When You Feel Faint When You Work Out
If you find yourself feeling faint or dizzy when you work out, your best step is to reduce the workout intensity or gradually come to a stop. Provided the dizziness isn’t too intense, it’s important to stop gradually, to allow your heart rate to slow with your movements. This way, you will stop your blood from being forced to your extremities by stopping all at once, only increasing your risk of fainting.
By gradually slowing down, you can bring your normal circulation rate back, sending blood to your brain and reducing the feeling.
As you do this, it’s a good idea to request assistance from someone else or at least let them know it’s happening. That way, if you do faint, you aren’t the only one who knew what was going on, and someone will be there to help you if it happens.
If you must come to a stop right away because you feel like you’re going to faint or you’re intensely dizzy, sit down on a chair or on the floor. Lean your head forward between your knees. If you need to lie down, do so with your legs propped up on a chair or wall to send more of your blood toward your head instead of to your legs and feet.
Sip small amounts of water and make sure someone else is there with you until the feeling passes, to be sure you’re not alone if you lose consciousness. Don’t be embarrassed to request assistance from a trainer, gym staff member, or even someone else at the gym if that’s where you’re working out. Gym staffers are trained for this type of situation because it is indeed common, and another exerciser can watch over you or ask a staffer for help on your behalf if necessary.
If the symptoms persist, seek immediate medical assistance.