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Exercise should make you feel good -- challenged, stretched, tested, even exhausted -- but it shouldn't make you dizzy. If you experience dizziness while exercising or immediately after a workout, you may need to adjust the conditions or intensity of your fitness program. Dizziness can also be a sign of a medical problem that requires a doctor's attention. See your health care provider for sudden or severe dizziness due to exercise to identify and treat any serious health issues.
What Triggers Dizziness
Feelings of dizziness range from light-headedness to the disorientation of a tilt-a-whirl. The Mayo Clinic says you may experience slight faintness, a loss of balance or full-fledged vertigo and that the symptoms are caused by a variety of circumstances and underlying health conditions. You might be dizzy due to an inner ear infection or imbalance, prescribed medications like sedatives, tranquilizers, anti-seizure drugs or blood pressure stabilizers or the onset of a condition like migraine or MГ©niГЁre's disease. Environmental conditions -- altitude and temperature -- can make you faint or dizzy. Sit down, drink some water, identify your symptoms and get a medical all-clear before pushing through a workout or a game if you feel dizzy.
Diet and Dehydration
If you're not eating and drinking enough, a workout could make you dizzy. Vigorous exercise while dieting can leave you feeling weak and unsteady. Columbia University recommends snacking on a piece of fruit or some crackers within an hour before exercising or eating a more substantial meal several hours in advance. Staying hydrated prevents dizziness and other health issues. Drink 16 ounces of fluid two hours before a sports event or workout session and continue to drink water throughout the exercise. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns not to ignore hydration -- without sufficient fluid replacement, your body's temperature-regulation system could shut down.
The increasing popularity of "hot" yoga and other steamy studio workouts poses the threat of heat exhaustion for the unwary. Signs that your body may be overheating include dizziness and feeling faint. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that those at highest risk for heat exhaustion while exercising are seniors, people who are seriously overweight or obese, pregnant women, the chronically ill and anyone suffering from cardiovascular disease or hypertension. The first line of defense is to drink enough -- avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks but swig plenty of water and consider a low-sugar sports drink to replace electrolytes for longer workouts. Another protective measure might be to rethink your venue. On very hot days, shift your fitness regime to an air-conditioned room or gym. Try a cooler yoga method if you get dizzy in the heat and humidity of a hot yoga studio. Check in with your health care provider if you are pregnant, under treatment for hypertension or otherwise at risk for heat exhaustion or heat sensitivity. And seek medical attention at the first sign that the heat is affecting you when you exercise.
Exercise can benefit nearly everyone, but some health conditions mandate that you check with your medical provider before beginning an exercise program. Dizziness is one sign that you may be aggravating a heart condition or hypertension. Alert your trainer and see your doctor at the first indication of any dizziness, breathlessness, racing heart rate or other abnormal reaction to exercise. And follow sensible procedures to minimize the risk of problems. The American Council on Exercise recommends at least a five-minute warm-up and five-minute cooldown for every exercise session to protect your heart from sudden oxygen deprivation. Monitor your heart rate throughout the exercise to stay within your safe zone. Do some form of moderate exercise daily for at least 30 minutes to maintain a healthy level of fitness. Avoid extremes of cold, heat and altitude, as well as sudden strenuous activities.