Dizziness, blurred vision, or lightheadedness when you exercise can be alarming (not to mention a detriment to your workout). Here's what might be causing it and how to prevent it in the future.
The last thing you want is to feel dizzy and lightheaded when you come up from that last burpee. We spoke to Jeffrey A. Morrison, M.D., founder of the Morrison Center in New York City, to find out why you might be experiencing these unpleasant (and somewhat alarming!) side effects during or after exercise—and how to prevent them.
Getting the spins during your workout? Dehydration could be a culprit. Take a look at some telltale signs of dehydration. The simple way to ensure you're staying well hydrated is pretty obvious: drink enough water and drink it often. Here's how much water you should be drinking on a regular basis and how much you water you should be drinking during a hot exercise class.
You Have Low Blood Sugar
One of the primary reasons you may feel dizzy both during and after exercise is because of low blood sugar, says Dr. Morrison. (P.S. here are seven other strange side effects you could be experiencing after a workout.) Your blood sugar levels dip and spike throughout the day based on the foods you eat and how quickly and how well your body breaks them down. To avoid the dizzying effects of low blood sugar (fatigue and headaches are among the various other symptoms), Dr. Morrison suggests eating something that's light enough for your stomach to handle and digest before exercise, but substantial enough to keep your blood sugar stable. He recommends half a serving of brown rice protein powder or pea protein powder, mixed with 4 ounces of almond milk for a quick pick-me-up before a workout. You may also consider reaching for a bottle of coconut water. It'll keep you hydrated, and the natural sugars will make sure your blood sugar doesn't tank.
You Have Low Blood Pressure
If you experience sudden dizziness during a particularly intense, weight-bearing workout such as running or spinning, low blood pressure could be to blame. You're looking for a healthy blood pressure reading as close to 120/80 as possible. Some define the low blood pressure benchmark as roughly 90/60, but what is considered "low" for someone else, may not be "low" for you, so you should consult your doctor if you're concerned about your numbers. Generally, "people who are lean, have a faster metabolism, and get lightheaded from just standing" are more susceptible to low blood pressure, says Dr. Morrison, who suggests adding a pinch of sea salt to veggies to up your levels. If the symptoms persist, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a little-known disorder that can cause frequent dizziness and heart palpitations.
You're Forgetting to Breathe
"Everyone takes breathing for granted because it's an automatic process," says Dr. Morrison. "If your [breathing] isn't synchronized with what you're doing, you might not be letting enough oxygen in and carbon dioxide out," which can cause sudden dizziness. You may be holding your breath during isometric moves (planks and squats) or breathing heavily through your mouth during drills and sprints. Check out this ultimate guide for breathing properly during your workout.