Nausea During Workout

Nausea During Workouts

Often, I receive an email concerning that nauseated feeling you can get when exercising. There are a few issues that can cause this uncomfortable feeling as well as many ways to prevent it. Here is the email to give you a better idea of the issues involved with this topic:

"I noticed that no matter how light or heavy my workout is for the day I always experience some nausea. Even on the days I do very light cardio and just weightlift ... could there be something causing this? I am training to pass the PFT using your training programs. I have the understanding that when you push your body to a certain point vomiting will happen, but I experience this on the lightest of days. If you have any advice, please share!"

In my experience, that nauseated feeling has nothing to do with how good of shape you are in. I have seen many people (including myself) who are above average athletes toss their cookies during workouts. We used to joke in my younger days that "if you are not throwing up at the end of a PFT you are not trying." That is about as true as the saying, "No Pain - No Gain". Here are some of the things that can cause and prevent this unpleasant feeling:

1) Early Morning Workouts

Pre-breakfast workouts start your body exercising with minimal fuel in the tank. In other words, since you have not eaten in probably 10-12 hours, your blood sugars levels are lower than normal. After any anaerobic activity like - faster running, swimming, high repetition calisthenics or weight lifting you will hit a wall and feel completely drained. Dizziness soon follows and next thing you know you are nauseated. This can also occur in evening workouts if you skip lunch or after noon pre-workout meals.

2) PFT Anxiety

Many people when timed in events such as a physical fitness test can get very nauseated prior to exercise. There are ways to combat this feeling. Check out the "7 Tips on Dealing With PFT Anxiety" article.

3) Motion Sickness

This is probably what caused your nausea. Many people who like to begin their workouts with crunches or other abdominal exercises can actually get motion sick while performing abdominal exercises. This occurs when your eyes are either closed while exercising or your eyes scan the ceiling freely. The answer to this is to simply do the old Navy trick I learned when first on a ship in the North Atlantic - look at the horizon to prevent motion sickness. So when doing abs, lock your eyes on a fixed point on the ceiling of your workout area. You will not longer feel sick by doing this as long as you are properly fueled and not too anxious about your PFT.

A majority of the time the causes for exercise induced nausea are motion sickness or lower blood sugar levels. If there are particular areas you would like for me to discuss in the next month of articles, please email me at Whether you are an advanced athlete or getting started again - please feel free to contact me.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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