3 Strange Side Effects Of Working Out


What does the average guy usually expect from a workout? Sweat, muscle failure, maybe a little pain from lactic acid buildup? But these are not usually viewed as being a problem; heck, you might even welcome them.

But when do symptoms go from normal pain to warning signs? And when should sucking it up and applying some ice give way to an actual doctor’s appointment?

1. Nausea

Contrary to what you see on The Biggest Loser, nausea during a workout is not normal, and it may be triggered by a number of different things. Eating the wrong food at the wrong time or pushing yourself too hard can all cause queasiness and even vomiting. “If you’re working out to that extent, back off and gradually acclimate to that intensity over time,” says Veselik.

Nausea can also occur from taking vitamins on an empty stomach, says Higgins. “It’s more common with supplements high in iron, multivitamins with herbal additives, and those containing lots of fillers and binders.” Taking other medications at the same time as your vitamins, such as caffeine or birth control pills, may make it worse.

How to reduce your risk:

Take vitamins with food, preferably at breakfast or lunch. And if you repeatedly suffer from nausea, you might want to avoid eating solid food three hours prior to a workout. For a more easily digestible, quick-energy alternative, try a liquid meal replacement that includes carb and protein about 30 to 60 minutes before you exercise.

2. Shakiness

After doing your usual squat routine, your trainer decides to mix in single-leg squats, and your first attempt makes your leg muscles shake as if you’ve been shot with a taser. What gives? It could be a number of things, says Keith Veselik, MD, director of primary care at Loyola University Health System in Chicago. “Often muscles shakiness is simply due to fatigue. You’re likely pushing it to the point where you’re maxed out.”

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Your blood sugar may also be low, says John P. Higgins, MD, director of exercise physiology at the Ironman Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) can cause symptoms ranging from tremors to fatigue, and even loss of consciousness says, Higgins.

How to reduce your risk:

Eat before you exercise to avoid a drop in blood sugar. Think protein and carbs, like whole-wheat toast with peanut butter or half of an energy bar, suggests Veselik. And if it lasts for longer than a few hours, see a doctor.

3. Heartburn

Common sense tells you that guzzling a 20-ounce bottle of water isn’t a great idea before you do decline chest presses. “We all have a little physiological reflux, which is normal,” says Higgins, and even those who don’t usually have a problem with indigestion may experience some reflux or heartburn at the gym. Higgins warns that taking ibuprofen on an empty stomach may make symptoms worse, as will eating or drinking too close to your workout.

How to reduce your risk:

Try taking small sips of water during your workout instead of big gulps, and wait an hour or two after you eat before working out. If the heartburn is accompanied by shortness of breath and/or chest pain, see a doctor immediately, as these may be symptoms of a heart attack.

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