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What Can Cause Vomiting after Exercise?

M.C. Huguelet
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Those who experience nausea and vomiting after exercise may find themselves frustrated by the fact that an activity which is supposed to improve their health is making them feel sick. There are two primary causes of vomiting after exercise, both which, in most cases, can be fairly easily resolved. Some people vomit after exercise because they have worked out at an intensity that exceeds their fitness level. Others experience sickness because they have eaten improperly prior to their workout. To rule out a more serious health condition, those experiencing vomiting after exercise for the first time should consider consulting a physician.

One of the most common causes of vomiting after exercise is working out at an intensity that is too challenging for an individual’s level of fitness. There are two primary ways that working out too hard can lead to vomiting. First of all, a sudden increase in muscle use can cause the body to divert a significant amount of blood to the muscles, thus reducing the flow of blood to other areas of the body, such as the digestive system. This reduction in the digestive system’s blood supply can lead to nausea and even vomiting in some people.

Working out too hard can also lead to vomiting by causing a buildup of a substance called lactic acid in the blood. When the level of oxygen in the blood drops during exercise, the muscles produce energy-rich lactic acid by breaking down carbohydrates. In individuals working out at a level that is too challenging for their fitness level, however, the muscles are not able to use this lactic acid quickly enough, and it begins to build up in the blood. This in turn can aggravate a nerve, known as the vagus nerve, which links the brain to the esophagus and the digestive tract. When the vagus nerve becomes aggravated, the body may respond by vomiting.

Post-exercise vomiting which is caused by overexertion is usually fairly easily resolved. Quite simply, exercisers should avoid working out at an intensity that greatly exceeds their fitness level. Instead of rushing into a very demanding exercise regime, those with low levels of fitness should start with workouts that are only mildly challenging, and should gradually increase their exercise intensity. Those who begin to feel nauseous during a workout should take it as a sign to slow down.

Another common cause of vomiting after exercise is not eating the right foods prior to one’s workout. Foods that are rich in protein or fat can take a significant amount of time to leave the stomach. Therefore, if such foods are eaten immediately before exercising, they can cause discomfort, nausea, and even vomiting during and after one’s workout. To prevent food-related, post-exercise vomiting, exercisers should turn to low-fat, high-carbohydrate foods like bananas or whole-grain crackers prior to a workout. These foods leave the stomach quickly, providing the exerciser with a burst of energy without creating digestive discomfort.

Exercise-induced vomiting is generally quite easy to resolve, and usually does not require medical treatment. Nevertheless, those experiencing vomiting after exercise for the first time may wish to consult a physician. A medical consultation can rule out a more serious underlying condition, and a doctor can provide advice about how to prevent illness after exercise in the future.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet , Former Writer
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including The Health Board. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

By anon924905 — On Jan 08, 2014

Thanks. I think this make sense. I went against both of these principles at the gym today which may be the reason why I felt so nauseated and weak after only a couple of minutes of workout. Thanks again.

M.C. Huguelet

M.C. Huguelet

Former Writer

Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
Learn more
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