Getting Sick of Cardio?

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It’s not entirely uncommon for some people to push themselves so hard during their cardio workout that a nauseous feeling descends soon after they’re finished. This can sometimes lead to becoming physically sick if all the pawns are in place, so to speak.

The reason behind the sickness is quite straightforward, though. When we exercise hard, our bodies automatically shift the blood to the areas we are working such as our legs and arms. Seeing as we only have so much blood, the less important organs such as those involved with digestion get less blood, and the stomach can actually shrink a little. Now, when exercise is stopped quickly and blood suddenly returns to all the organs to start clearing out the by-products of exercise, your poor old tum is now trying to get back to its normal size. If there is fluid or food in there, there’s a good chance it’s coming back up again…

There are however some simple things to bear in mind to reduce the nauseous feeling:

Firstly, eat a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates about 2-3 hours before a long period of exercise. A good example here is 2 slices of granary bread or toast with a thin licking of honey or jam. Having a portion of protein also slows down the digestion of these carbs and causes the energy to release slower for the workout.

Next, warm up and cool down properly: 5 to 10 minutes each. It’s important that your heart rate gradually reaches the level you want to maintain for the big workout and also comes back down steadily post-workout. Light cardio work, dynamic stretching (keeping the muscles moving) and a handful of bodyweight exercises such as squats and pushups are all good examples for warming up. When cooling down, perform light core exercises and static stretches, holding each key muscle for 20 – 30 seconds.

Finally – Don’t drink too much water while training. Apart from causing bloating and an embarrassing sloshing noise, there is a condition called Hyponatremia which is caused by taking too much water on board. This, amongst other things, can make you feel sick by reducing your electrolyte and / or sodium levels. Roughly 200ml of water per 20 minutes of exercise is a good guideline amount for normal conditions.


So, in a nutshell: Eat simple and complex carbs along with a portion of protein a few hours before training. Warm up thoroughly, cool down properly, and don’t over hydrate yourself.


See you at the finish line!