Why Do I Vomit During Exercise?

When I lift weights or exercise, sometimes I get sick to my stomach and throw up. Why is this?
—Mark, Pasadena
During exercise, blood flow patterns change. Through the action of the sympathetic nervous system, blood is redirected away from areas where it is not essential to those areas that are active during exercise. Only 15 to 20% of resting cardiac output go to muscle, but during exhaustive exercise, like leg workouts, the muscles receive 80 to 85% of the cardiac output. This shift is accomplished by reducing blood flow to the kidneys, liver, stomach and intestines, which cause the feelings of nausea associated with intense workouts. Also, the red blood cells which carry oxygen to the working muscles as well as the entire body gets diverted to the working muscles which leads to feelings of being light-headed due to lack of sufficient oxygen to other systems.

If you experience nausea from a non-workout related cause, consider the following steps, which may help:

  • The BRAT Diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) helps with nausea and diarrhea.
  • Leave dry crackers by your bed. Before getting out of bed in the morning, eat a few and sit in bed for a few minutes. This can help reduce nausea.
  • Try some peppermint, chamomile or ginger tea-they can calm the stomach.
  • Sip cold carbonated drinks like ginger-ale, 7-Up or Sprite.
  • Avoid hot, spicy, strong-smelling and greasy foods.
  • If vomiting occurs, replenish fluids with broth, carbonated beverages, juice, Jell-O or popsicles.

3 thoughts on “Why Do I Vomit During Exercise?

  1. My question is what should I do about it? It seems that frequent vomiting is standing in the way of my getting back in shpae. It typically happens when I run more than 2 miles or go up a hill.

  2. Hi,

    I am a competitive athlete, I train year round. I have not changed my diet, hydration, or exercise routine, but I am now vomiting during workouts- What may be causing it? how do I stop it?


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