Editor’s Note: We originally published this article in July 2015. We decided to update it to include more tips and helpful information. Enjoy!
Do you ever get dizzy during your workout? Don’t ignore it! There are things you can do to avoid getting lightheaded while exercising. We chatted with Miraval’s fitness supervisor Pam Trudeau, ACE, AFAA, PMA-CPT, to find some common reasons many of us experience a little lightheadedness during a workout.
Note: If you are feeling dizzy while working out, make an appointment with your doctor. There could be underlying issues causing you to feel faint. Feeling dizzy during any activity or inactivity is not normal and should be brought to your doctor’s attention immediately.
How to manage dizziness
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been the girl in the above photo – hunched over, wondering why you ate those donuts someone brought to the office (aside from the fact that they had sprinkles, which everyone knows are irresistible).
In all seriousness though, getting dizzy during any activity is not a good thing. There are a few things you can do right away to manage the dizziness.
If a feeling of lightheadedness strikes during your exercise, Pam Trudeau urges, “Stop exercising and find a cool spot. If exercising outdoors, find some shade and sit down.”
Try not to overexert yourself. It’s important to address dizziness during a workout. If you don’t, it could only get worse. Staying hydrated in warm weather is especially important.
While you take a breather and maybe some sips of water, ask yourself the following three questions:
Am I properly fueled?
“If you’re exercising first thing in the morning, don’t expect your dinner from the night before to act as fuel,” says Pam. That dinner was likely eaten more than 10 hours ago, so fuel up!
Even if your workout happens in the middle of the day or the evening, you still might need to grab a pre-workout snack to avoid getting dizzy. Pam suggests, “Eat a high-carb snack about an hour prior to exercising.”
Make sure you keep the snack light. Here are a few good ideas:
- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, etc.)
- Low-sugar energy bar
A date an hour before or lightly salted almonds make for a good pre-workout snack, too.
Working out on an empty stomach could cause you to feel lightheaded. It’s important to fuel your body properly before hitting the gym, but get your snack in at least an hour before you start.
Along with a snack, it’s a good idea to invest in Alkaline water because it provides electrolytes and the proper hydration required for a good workout. That leads us to the next question.
Am I drinking enough water?
There’s no way around it. For our bodies to function well, we need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! “Dehydration can lead to low blood pressure, lightheadedness, even fainting,” warns Pam. “If you begin your workout slightly dehydrated, then add to that the loss of fluids through sweating, you very well could experience lightheadedness.”
Pam suggests sipping 4-6 ounces of water every 10-12 minutes during your workout. Just be careful not to drink too much water, as that can cause other problems like nausea.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the workout. Just be mindful of staying hydrated!
If you’re on a low-sodium diet, try drinking electrolyte-enhanced water. Your sweat contains salt, and if you’re already lowering your sodium intake, dizziness while exercising can be a side effect.
Am I breathing?
“Sometimes we have a tendency to hold our breath or use a rapid, shallow breaths during exercise,” explains Pam, “and any of these can lead to feeling lightheaded. A simple tool we use often here at Miraval is a synchronized breath with your steps during walking or running. In for 4, out for 4. Inhale, Inhale, Inhale, Inhale – Exhale, Exhale, Exhale, Exhale in sync with your steps.”
Pam also warns, “Immediately seek medical attention if you feel pain in your chest, arms, jaw, or lungs. Before resuming exercising, seek medical attention to rule out an underlying health issues such as heart disease or a lung illness.”
How to avoid getting dizzy while exercising
Here are some quick tips to avoid that dreaded lightheaded feeling during a workout:
- Eat a high-carb snack about an hour before your workout
- Drink water throughout the day and during your workout
- Breathe! Maintain regular breathing and try to synchronize your breathing with your movement
If you continue to be dizzy during a workout or dizziness occurs when you’re not working out, there may be something going on with your body. It could be low blood pressure or something else. We recommend this article from Cleveland Clinic for information on other causes of dizziness and what to do about it.