Whether you're a beginner or an experienced runner, you should feel strong after running on a treadmill. However, that's not how things always turn out! Sometimes you may feel sudden dizziness, lightheadedness, or blurred vision after stepping off the treadmill.
Why does that happen? More importantly, how do you prevent it?
In most cases, feeling dizzy when getting off the treadmill occurs due to minor issues like mild dehydration. But in other instances, it can be caused by an underlying condition.
To sum up, many reasons may be causing you to feel dizzy after treadmill workouts. In this post, I look at the common causes one by one! Moreover, I'll show you some valuable tips on stopping being dizzy after working out on the treadmill.
1. Forgetting to cool down
Dizziness usually occurs when you end your treadmill workout abruptly, without allowing your body to cool down. Cooling/ slowing down towards the end of your activity allows the body to keep following through your body after the exercise. Moreover, it allows the blood pressure and heart rate to fall off slowly and safely.
On the contrary, stopping abruptly causes your blood pressure and heart rate to drop too rapidly. This results in various treadmill side effects like light-headedness or dizziness after exercise.
To avoid feeling dizzy after a workout, it's essential to cool down as you come towards the end of your exercise. You can accomplish this by slowing down the treadmill speed to 3.5mph and jogging slowly for around 5 minutes. After that, walk at a slower pace of about 3 mph and for 3 -5 more minutes until your breath and heart rate slows down. Interestingly, modern treadmills have advanced displays where you can monitor your heart rate. Make sure your heart rate slows down to at least 100 beats/ minute before you get off the exercise equipment.
2. Treadmill-related motion sickness
Although you're going anywhere when running or walking on a treadmill, the body perceives you're moving. As a result, the brain receives signals that you're moving forward, while in reality, you are not. This can cause motion sickness, the same way you would experience in planes, cars, and trains. But, more notably, it can result in issues like dizziness, especially once you step off the moving belt.
Motion sickness tends to ease over time as your body adapts to the machine. Avoid looking down or holding onto the handrails during your workout if it doesn't. Instead, distract yourself by watching TV or checking the console display to monitor the number of calories burned, and distance traveled. More importantly, slowly reduce the pace of the moving belt to a slow walk before you exit the machine. Doing so will help the body cool down and re-acquaint itself to your position.
Dehydration is another factor that can cause you to feel dizzy as you step off the treadmill. This is bound to happen when you're training on a treadmill since the workout raises your body temperature, causing you to sweat. As a result, your body ends up losing a lot of water, especially on a hot day.
In addition, dehydration and dizziness can cause other symptoms like vomiting and fever after the exercise. This usually happens when you've complicated health conditions like hypoglycemia and diabetes. Other signs of dehydration are; extreme thirst, fainting/ lightheadedness, dry mouth, tiredness, and weakness. The American Heart Association claims that even mild dehydration can lead to these symptoms.
To avoid feeling dizzy due to dehydration, boost your water intake during and after your treadmill exercise routine. Also, what you eat before your workout will affect how your body feels afterward. In that regard, try a snack like yogurt with fruit or a bowl of cereal & milk at least 1 hour before the exercise.
What is overexertion? Overexertion occurs when you push your body too hard during physical exercise. This may cause dehydration or cause the blood pressure to drop, making you faint or lightheaded. Other symptoms of overexertion are; dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.
Overexertion can occur during any physical activity, including treadmill training. According to a2015 study, overexertion accounts for 36% of all injuries at fitness facilities.
If you're feeling dizzy while training on a treadmill after pushing your body too hard, hold onto the handlebars. Then take a minute to cool down, slow the heart rate, and catch your breath. Next, drink adequate water to rehydrate the depleted muscles.
To prevent this from happening in the future, don't try to do too much too fast. Instead, push your body slowly over time. For instance, you can gradually increase the intensity of your workout every week until you get to the desired level.
The type of workout you do may influence when you feel dizzy or not. For instance, chances of feeling dizziness after using a treadmill or an elliptical machine are high since both pieces of fitness equipment involve continuous movement. These machines may make you feel like you're still moving when you are not, an experience known as vertigo. In addition to causing dizziness, vertigo can make you feel like your body is spinning while standing still.
How to beat vertigo
Most vertigo will not impact your life. However, if it keeps happening, you need to consult a medical professional. Alternatively, you can train on other forms of workout machines like an elliptical trainer or a stationary bike.
6. Lack of oxygen
When you are running or walking on a treadmill, your muscles consume a lot of oxygen. Consequently, the heart rate and your breathing rate increase to allow more oxygenated blood to flow into the muscles.
So, if you're breathing correctly during exercise, your body will not have adequate oxygen to meet the needs of the engaged muscles. Similarly, the heart doesn't pump sufficient oxygenated blood into the brain, causing dizziness.
If you have a feeling of dizziness or shortness of breath after a treadmill workout, this may be an indication that your brain needs more oxygen. Stop, sit on the floor, take deep breaths & exhale slowly. Continue doing this for the next 3 - 5 minutes before you slowly stand.
Also, avoid holding or restricting your breath in the future when performing specific treadmill workouts.
7. Medical conditions
If you're still experiencing post-exercise fatigue, something else may be going on in your body even after ruling the above issues. Please consult a healthcare provider and describe your symptoms to them. Moreover, this will allow you to undergo a complete physical checkup to diagnose any underlying problem.
The most common health conditions that can leave you feeling sick and dizzy during exercise include;
A. Low blood pressure
Blood pressure refers to the blood's force that pushes against the artery's walls. Most healthy individuals have less than 120/80 mmHg blood pressure. On the other hand, research shows that people with low blood pressure (hypotension) have a reading of less than 90/60 mmHg.
Exercising may slightly increase the blood pressure since it forces the heart to work harder to pump blood to your muscles. However, the heart muscles become more robust over time while the blood pressure drops. These slight changes in blood pressure are good for your health. Unfortunately, some people experience severe fluctuations, leading to a more severe condition like endocrine/ heart conditions. Also, a sudden drop in blood pressure can cause dizziness, fatigue dizziness, blurred vision, and nausea.
If you feel faint after a workout, sit down & position your head between the knees. Doing so will promote oxygenated blood flow to the brain. Also, make sure you're fully hydrated while exercising to prevent rapid blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy diet and eating well before jumping onto the treadmill may also help avoid this problem. However, if the symptoms persist, look for a physician's evaluation even after taking all these precautions.
B. Heart disorders
A typical heart problem that may be causing you to feel dizzy after a workout is an arrhythmia, which refers to an abnormal/ irregular heartbeat.
Researchers claim that exercise can trigger heart arrhythmia, especially in heart disease patients. This may eventually lead to symptoms like fainting, dizziness, sweating after walking short distances, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath.
These symptoms don't necessarily mean that you've got a severe problem. Nonetheless, it's essential to see a doctor, especially if the arrhythmias persist.
C. Low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia)
Hypoglycemia occurs when the body has a very low blood sugar level (glucose), the primary energy source. As mentioned earlier, the muscles tend to consume more glucose than average during exercise. This causes some people to experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), either after or during a workout.
Symptoms of low blood sugar include; post-workout anxiety, dizziness, irritability, sweating, shaking, hunger, and fatigue.
You're more likely to experience low blood sugar if you don't eat much before getting on your treadmill. This usually happens for treadmill users who perform their workout routine the first morning. That said, the easy way to remedy this condition is by eating a small snack before you start exercising. Alternatively, you can drink juice since it contains fructose, a natural form of glucose.
In most cases, feeling dizzy hours after running on a treadmill isn't a severe issue for concern. However, it often shows that you've not had enough to drink or eat before working out. Also, post-workout fatigue may be an indication that you're pushing your body too hard & too fast.
Whichever the case, I hope the tips I've listed above will help you prevent this problem during your next treadmill training. But if the symptoms do not improve, make sure you consult a doctor before you resume any exercise program!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it normal to feel tired after working out?
Feeling tired after exercising is common, especially after engaging in a high-intensity workout. That's because such activities require a lot of stamina and energy, leaving you exhausted after the exercise. However, this will be determined by various factors like intensity, frequency & duration of workout, diet, hydration level, fitness level, and underlying health condition.
2. How to prevent passing out while exercising?
To avoid feeling faint or lightheaded during exercise, breathe regularly and drink water throughout the workout. Also, make sure you eat a high-carb diet at least 1 hour before the training.
3. What does feeling faint during exercise mean?
Various factors can cause you to feel faint & dizzy while working out. They include; overexertion, dehydration, underlying medical conditions, and failing to warm up or cool down while exercising.
4. How do you determine if post-exercise dizziness is severe?
Generally speaking, post-exercise dizziness can be considered severe if it's extreme, prolonged, sudden, or recurrent. In any of these scenarios, ensure that you see a doctor for a diagnosis.