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Nauseated Workouts

stew smith

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 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 in the SEAL Teams that “if you are not puking - you are not trying.” However, there are ways to help you avoid this feeling altogether. 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. If you sip Gatorade or another electrolyte /sugar replacement drink during your workout, this will help you as well. I usually eat a piece of fruit or oatmeal prior to any workout and working out in the morning.

2) 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 situps, lock your eyes on a fixed point on the ceiling of your workout area. You will no longer feel sick by doing this as long as you are properly fueled.

A majority of the time, the causes for exercise induced nausea are motion sickness or lower blood sugar levels. Also eating or drinking too much prior to exercise can bounce around and make you feel ill as well.

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 or visit my website at

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