We know that regular exercise is good for both our short and long-term health. There can be so many positive effects of exercise — increased self-confidence, a greater ability to manage stress and generally feeling stronger.
What we don’t often talk about are some of the stranger side effects of exercise. While most of these are totally normal, if you are just starting your fitness journey they can make you wonder if you’re doing something wrong. Today, I’m explaining the effects of exercise that are totally normal, so you can put your mind at ease.
Side effects of exercise
These are a few side effects of exercise that are really common — and some tips to help you manage them.
Side effect: sore muscles
We’ve all dealt with DOMS, or delayed-onset muscle soreness, at some stage in our fitness journey! Muscle soreness can be a result of micro-tears in your muscles, leaving you feeling stiff or sore sometimes 12-72 hours after a workout. If you are new to a workout routine, it’s likely that you will notice this muscle soreness more because your body is adapting to new movements. Some people find they experience flu-like symptoms after a workout — this can be due to feeling both muscle soreness and mild dehydration.
Make sure you warm up before a workout and cool down after. Do one of my rehabilitation sessions from the Sweat app — foam rolling can really help with post-workout recovery! Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Side effect: a runny nose
A runny nose can be so annoying, especially when you’re in the middle of an intense workout. Sadly, it can also be a normal side effect of exercise! Known as exercise-induced rhinitis, your runny nose can be made worse by blood vessels dilating in your nasal passage, which causes the passage to open up and your nose to ‘run’.
Don’t panic — you aren’t allergic to exercise! Exercise-induced rhinitis is particularly common if you train outside because pollen and other irritants can cause your nose to run, in the same way you might get seasonal allergies like hay fever. It’s perfectly normal but it can be really irritating. You can try switching to indoor workouts (especially on high-pollen days) or chat with your healthcare professional about using a nasal spray before your workout.
Side effect: you have to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW
Okay, anyone that has experienced this has my sympathy! Having to dash to the bathroom mid-workout can be quite common, particularly if you’re a runner.
When you’re running, the impact on your body causes jostling in your gastrointestinal organs, which can give you the urge to go to the bathroom. Plus, blood flow is being directed to your muscles, rather than your intestines. Other factors that can contribute to that ‘need to go’ feeling are stress, hydration levels, how long ago you ate and the intensity of your workout.
Try to eat your meals well before you go for a run — have a snack instead if you feel hungry. Try to also avoid food and drink which may irritate your stomach, such as those containing caffeine and spicy foods. It also helps to go to the bathroom before you begin exercising!
Side effect: itchy skin
As you exercise, your heart pumps blood around your body and to your muscles. This causes millions of capillaries to fill with blood, forcing them to expand and push outward. This stimulates the nerve cells surrounding the capillaries which your brain can interpret as an itch.
On top of that, you have tight workout clothes which can cause friction against your skin. These two things can trigger an inflammatory response from your body, causing you to itch.
Keep exercising! It sounds silly but as you keep up with regular training, you should notice you stop getting itchy during workouts.
Another idea is to try switching to loose-fitting workout clothes and see if that helps. Make sure you always wash workout clothes before you wear them too. I’ve found that some types of leggings make my legs itch, it really depends on the fabric type. That’s why you’ll often see me working out in shorts!
Side effect: feeling nauseated
As I’ve explained above, exercise causes blood to redirect from your gastrointestinal tract to your muscles. This can cause your digestion to slow down, leaving that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach. Add in lots of movement, particularly a high-intensity workout, and suddenly you might feel as though you need to throw up.
Dehydration and eating a large meal before your workout can leave you with an upset stomach, or a side-stitch.
Exercise-induced nausea affects everyone — so don’t take it as a sign that you are out of shape.
Remember, my workouts are intense! If you start feeling nauseated, slow down, have a few small sips of water and take a rest until your stomach settles. Try having a small snack before your workout so that your stomach isn’t empty but you don’t feel too full either.
Common exercise side effects
Don’t be too concerned about these exercise side effects — while they can sometimes be uncomfortable, in most cases, they are also totally normal. Remember, there are SO many positive effects of exercise too.
Hopefully the tips I’ve included help you to manage these symptoms and make exercise just that little bit easier.
5 Side Effects Of Exercise You Can Expect – Kayla Itsines is written by Louise Tilley for www.kaylaitsines.com