How to Avoid Getting Sick During Exercise
JenniferM | On 02, Mar 2013
Do you ever feel sick while you’re exercising? Did you know there’s actually a “technical term” for that feeling of nauseousness you may sometimes experience during your workout? It’s called exercise-induced nausea and it’s no fun. What can you do to prevent feeling sick during exercise?
There are a variety of reasons why you may be getting nauseous during your workouts, so to avoid getting sick, you need to determine what’s causing it to happen first.
Causes of Nausea During Exercise
I used to work out early in the a.m. before I had a chance to eat something. While this worked out okay for me in my 20s, it hasn’t worked out so well in my 30s since working out on a completely empty stomach makes me nauseous. I have to eat something light at least an hour before my workouts out now since I determined the reason for my nausea was low blood sugar levels due to my empty stomach. In addition to working out on an empty stomach, other causes of getting sick during exercise include:
- Dehydration; and/or
- Motion sickness from performing ab exercises with your eyes closed.
How to Prevent Getting Sick During Your Workout
You’ll need to experiment to see what exactly is causing you to get nauseous during your workouts, but once you pinpoint your issue, here are a few things you can do to prevent it from happening:
- Don’t work out on an empty stomach. Eat a small meal or snack an hour or so before your workout. Try to eat a meal/snack that is a combination of carbs and protein and watch the fat since high-fat foods can cause stomach upset during exercise as well. If you eat a heavier meal, be sure to wait 2 to 3 hours before even attempting to work out.
- Pushing yourself to do more or work harder can sometimes be a good thing, but if you push yourself too hard, this can have an opposite effect and cause nausea or even vomiting. If you’re getting nauseous because you’re overexerting yourself, try scaling back your intensity just a bit and slowly work at increasing your intensity.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate…before and during your workout. To stay properly hydrated, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16 to 20 ounces at least four hours before working out, another 8 to 12 ounces 10 to 15 minutes before your workout, and 3 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout if you’ll be working out less than 60 minutes. If you find yourself excessively thirsty during your workout, sip your water over your entire workout.
- According to former Navy Seal Stew Smith, we can actually experience nausea in the form of motion sickness during ab exercises:
Many people who like to begin their workouts with crunches or other abdominal exercises can actually get motion sick while performing abdominal exercises. This occurs when your eyes are either closed while exercising or your eyes scan the ceiling freely.
To avoid getting nauseous from motion sickness, keep your eyes locked on a fixed point on the ceiling during your ab exercises. To prevent getting sick from ab work, I actually do my ab exercises at the end of my workout because I found that even when I kept my eyes fixed, I would still get nauseous and it would mess up the rest of my workout.
Exercise-induced nausea can be a symptom of a more serious medical issue, so it’s worth talking to your doctor about, especially if it’s happening frequently.
Do you get sick during exercise? What have you done to try to prevent it from happening?