Why Do I Have Nausea While Exercising?

Exercise-induced nausea is a thing which is experienced by both novices and experienced athletes. There are many reasons why exercising can cause sickness, and if you experience such effects, you can make changes to your training rules to avoid nausea and vomiting.

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There are so many reasons why you can feel nauseous while exercising that it’s difficult to say which ones are more likely to cause the sensation. From eating before starting to move to drinking too much water, there are things that should be avoided to prevent exercise-induced nausea. Here is what can cause dizziness and the urge to throw up.

Reason #1. Dehydration.

When you are exercising, your muscles need a lot of energy, and blood flows away from the stomach to other organs to supply the body parts that are used in the physical activity. In such situation, hydration is insufficient, and gut mobility is also reduced. All these changes result in the urge to vomit. Staying hydrated is an important part of any training session, and it is recommended to drink one hour prior to starting to exercise, and every twenty minutes while you are moving. However, one should remember that drinking too much can be dangerous, as it can lead to hyponatremia, which is often diagnosed in marathon runners, for example.

Reason #2. Intensity level.

If you are a beginner, pushing yourself too hard can cause nausea. Surprisingly, fitness level does not seem to contribute to an increased risk of feeling sick while exercising. A research carried out by Japanese scientists revealed that while food intake and exercise intensity do play a role in the sensation, sex and fitness level do not appear to be risk factors. As to intensity levels, exercise-induced nausea is more likely to affect those making their body work hard, but it can be experienced at any level. It is explained by the fact that emotions are important too, and if you’re excited, anxious or stressed any other way (when participating in a major sports event, for example), you can feel nauseous regardless of what you are doing.

Reason #3. Eating.

What you eat affects how you exercise. It is recommended to avoid eating large meals before exercising, otherwise unpleasant consequences may follow. Yet failing to eat properly during the day can spoil your sports experience too: having enough proteins, fats and carbs to supply your body is a must, and one of the best options is to eat a healthy snack 30-60 minutes before exercising. If you are going to move for a long time, you may consider eating small snacks from time to time (if it’s a trail running marathon, for instance) in order to prevent your blood sugar level from becoming too low. Having an empty stomach is not a good idea, because the splashing water inside can make you feel sick too.

There may be other reasons why you start feeling sick when exercising, including orthostatic hypotension (dizziness and nausea after standing up too fast), hyperventilation (improper breathing), letting your gaze wander instead of keeping it level, hormones (there are hormones that slow down gastric emptying, which can also result in nausea), and taking medications in amounts exceeding the recommended intake – for example, some athletes may feel pain in the knee or muscles and take anti-inflammatory or other pills to alleviate the symptoms. If taken in excess, these drugs can lead to feeling nauseous.

Everything said above boils down to avoiding exercises that are too difficult for you, eating healthy snacks prior to and during exercising to replenish energy and electrolytes, and keeping in mind other factors mentioned above. If you are not feeling well, stop exercising and wait for the sensation to disappear – there is no shame in doing so. Even experienced athletes are susceptible to exercise-induced nausea!


Exercise-induced nausea is exaggerated by eating – Sciencedirect.com

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