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Do you get headaches while working out?

The benefits of staying active are endless, and as most of us know, working out lends to us feeling better both mentally and physically. So, what happens when we experience headaches when we work out? The one thing that makes us feel better, can spoil this outlet and may even lead to you dreading lacing up your shoes in the first place. 

At F45 Training in Seattle, we mix a little HIIT, resistance, and cardio for a unique training experience that gets you results. If you are managing exercise-induced headaches, join us today and learn more about how you can kick them for good. 

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Exercise-Induced Headaches

Exercise-induced headaches are often the throbbing pain you experience when you stop to catch your breath during a workout or one that fights you from beginning to end. They’re painful, but not uncommon. In fact, most athletes and fitness enthusiasts get them at some point, if only for a minute or two. 

Exertional Headaches

Exercise-induced headaches are known as exertional headaches, and they’re brought on through exercise — through running, lifting weights, HIIT, and even low intensity — and surface during and after activity. It’s pulsating pain that can last momentarily or up to 48 hours. 

Managing exercise-induced headaches can be difficult and frustrating because you never know what may trigger them — last week it was sprinting, while today it could be yoga. At the end of the day, these headaches can keep you from your daily routine of working out or may cut your workouts short. If this sounds like you, there are solutions! 

The Causes

While it may be difficult to pinpoint what is triggering your headaches it’s important to observe what you were doing when it occurred — the more you know, the more you can help manage them.

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Increased Heart Rate

Headaches are a physiological response and when we break a sweat, it causes our blood vessels to dilate for enhanced circulation. This abrupt shift is likely the culprit in exercise-induced headaches. 

If you get headaches from a sudden increase in heart rate — think sprinting, HIIT, and even lifting heavy weight — this may be increasing the pressure in the blood vessels in your brain, resulting in a headache.

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Improper Breathing

Have you ever caught yourself holding your breath when lifting weights or doing core work? This may play a role in developing exercise-induced headaches. When you unconsciously hold your breath it can increase intracranial pressure, and the physiological response is a headache.

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Dehydration 

Headaches don’t always manifest in what you’re doing in your workout, but instead what you do leading up to it, including staying hydrated. One of the biggest culprits to exercise-induced headaches is dehydration. If you only begin to drink water when you’re working out, it’s likely too late, so starting an intense HIIT workout dehydrated is a recipe for disaster. 

The brain swells when it’s dehydrated, so exertion can make it worse.

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Stress

Perhaps you’re hydrated and well-rested, yet you still experience headaches. This can result from stress. When you’re stressed you have higher cortisol levels, and because exercise can drive these levels up even further, there’s a greater chance of getting a headache during your workout. 

There are many causes of exercise-induced headaches but the more you know about your body and what might be triggering them, the better you can prevent them. 

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