Header image

Lightheadedness and fainting

There are a number of reasons you may feel light headed or about to faint during a workout. In this article I cover some common reasons that may be the cause of these episodes.

Passing out and feeling faint results from the lack of blood and the oxygen it carries getting to the brain. It’s important to say here that there are reasons of natural stresses placed upon the body created by your workout and/or diet and reasons that may suggest an underlying health issue. For that reason if you suspect you are suffering from an underlying health issue, you MUST seek medical advice and go and see your doctor.

Blood pressure and holding your breath

When you lift a heavy weight, you can often end up holding your breath in order to create internal pressure to help stabilise yourself. This holding of the breath can create a blood pressure spike. However as you release this pressure, your blood pressure has a sudden drop which can make you light headed with the possibility of passing out. Learn to control your breathing to help avoid this situation and also read the blood pressure article.

Blacking out, fainting or lightheadedness

This can occur due to a lack of blood to the head – Often preceded by lightheadedness or feeling dizzy and often lasts for a short period before a rapid recovery takes place. Some of the reasons for this to occur are, getting up too quickly from a lying down exercise, where blood goes to lower parts of body while executing an exercise and then as you get up, there is again a sudden drop in blood pressure and your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. Other causes can include, low blood sugar, low sodium levels, overheating and not being fully hydrated.

If you suffer an episode as above, stop working out and get some water or a sports drink and some carbohydrates. Rest in a cool place. Re-evaluate the possible cause and ensure you are hydrated. Next time you plan your workout, make sure you time your nutrition around your workout and drink enough water throughout the day and work out in a comfortable environment to help eliminate these instances. Make notes if it helps to monitor a pattern.

Another time that you may feel light headed is at the end of your workout. Just when you think it’s all over, you feel dizzy. This is normally down to a low blood sugar level or from going from a vigorous workout to a sudden stop. To combat this ensure you have sufficient carbohydrates pre-workout to match the intensity of your workout and have a cooling down routine.

Possible underlying issues

I’m simply going to list possible causes here. I’m not a qualified medical practitioner and when it comes to your heart, you better make sure you seek a professional opinion/advice from your doctor.

Low blood pressure

Regardless of the reasons mentioned above, if you have a good nutritional plan, drinking plenty of water and workout in a comfortable environment, but still suffer lightheadedness then you may have low blood pressure. A drop in blood pressure can be caused by a restriction of blood flow or your heart not communicating with your brain properly. Your doctor will help you monitor this and will suggest the best plan of attack to help normalise your blood pressure.

Heart murmurs/palpitations/abnormal heart rhythm

As someone who was born with a heart murmur and gets the occasional palpitations/abnormal heart rhythm, I find it best to keep a record of my daily heart rate and also monitor my blood pressure several times a week. The reasons for this are many, but include your genetics, medication, stress and dehydration. The important part here is to consult your doctor before starting a workout program.

Weak heart/cardiovascular system

If your cardiovascular system is weak or blocked and unable to supply enough blood and oxygen for your body to function then this could lead to a number of issues. Fainting and feeling dizzy can be a precursor to a stroke/heart attack. If you have any concerns about the condition of your health seek medical advice before starting a workout program.

Your diabetic

If you suffer low blood sugar levels you may be diabetic – seek nutritional and medical advice.

Bottom line

Always seek medical advice for the symptoms mentioned above. The good news is exercise and a good nutrition plan can help many of those symptoms and help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Please also see the blood pressure, heart and lungs articles.