The Side Effects Of Exercise And What To Do About Them

Before we get into this subject, let’s clear one thing up. The effects of exercise are overwhelmingly positive and any bad side effects are well outweighed by the benefits. However, that’s not to say that it’s all sunshine and roses when you start living an active lifestyle. There are downsides, and they are worth being aware of and knowing how to counteract so you’re not being made miserable while you make yourself healthier. Here are a few tips on tackling the side-effects of exercise so you can keep living a better lifestyle.

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Feeling drained

You should imagine that it’s only natural you’re going to feel somewhat exhausted attar a hard workout. Indeed, if you don’t feel even a little tired, that’s a good sign you’re not exercising anywhere near enough. However, feeling drained and low on energy hours after your workout, or even the next day, are a sure sign that you’re not fueling your body properly. Make sure you hydrate before and after the exercise and eat heartily after you’re done. Otherwise, your blood sugar levels could end up getting dangerously low. If you’re on a calorie-controlled diet, make sure you’re not cutting those calories too much and try to schedule more of them in after your workout. There are other ways to help energize yourself after a workout, too, such as using the right supplements or juicing.

Muscle soreness

There are a lot of sayings that people like to throw around when it comes to exercise. No pain, no gain. You have to work into it. Etc., etc.. It’s all a way of saying that muscle soreness is expected and you shouldn’t stop because you feel it. Your muscles are breaking down and repairing when you exercise so you should be feeling a little pain or discomfort, especially the next day. That’s a sign it’s working. However, you can tackle that soreness so it’s not quite as uncomfortable. Using foam rolls after exercise, massaging your sore spots, using heat to improve circulation, and keeping yourself moving (even if it’s just walking) all help soreness recede quicker. Again, fueling your body after a workout is crucial when it comes to muscle soreness.

Inflammation and swelling

Poor circulation because of repetitive movements during exercise is a fairly common occurrence. High-impact exercises like running and many weight training exercises can also stress the tissue around our joints. This can all lead to inflammation and swelling that a) is very unflattering and b) can hurt quite a bit. It’s worth being careful with your joints by opting for lower-impact exercises more often, but for swelling, compression clothing like socks and skintight breathable clothes can help. There are both women’s and men’s socks available so be sure to pick the size that fits you if you want the full benefits. Again, treating your body with heat after exercise can improve circulation, which lessens swelling.

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Soreness is good, but sharp pain is bad. A lot of people who are new to exercise or simply taking it to new levels of intensity will often make the mistake of not knowing when to tell the difference. When pain is acute and sharp, instead of feeling like a natural result of repeated stress, it’s a sign that you have injured yourself. You can often feel when you’re reaching that point, so make sure you know when to listen to your body and to stop. To avoid injuries while weight training, make sure you always have a spotter. A lift gone wrong can have devastating results.

A bad night’s sleep

When you exercise, it messes with the whole body. The shock to the system is mostly good, but the sudden rush of adrenaline can take a while to fade away completely. If you exercise after work or in the evenings, you’re likely going to feel some of those effects at night. A lot of people who exercise in the evening have a lot of trouble sleeping because of it. The simplest solution is to start exercising in the mornings instead. Wake up a little earlier, warm up carefully, and get your workout out of the way before you have to take care of all the day’s responsibilities. When you have enough time between exercise and bedtime, it can actually improve your sleep quality drastically.

The sweats

Of course, if you workout before going into work, then you’re probably going to have a whole new concern. Even after your shower, you will find you are sweating a lot more than usual. This becomes a particular problem for anyone you have to share an office with and the stains can leave you feeling highly self-conscious. However, there are ways to get your body back to regularly non-sweaty levels. Keep yourself thoroughly hydrated during the workout so you’re not drinking tons more and sweating lots more after it. If you’re willing, drinking lukewarm water results in less sweat than a glass of the cold stuff. If you’re finding that nothing works, give yourself more time in the morning and wait a little longer to shower. Get out of your sweaty clothes as soon as possible, however.

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Rubbing yourself raw

Sweat builds up as you exercise, and where there’s sweat and vigorous movement, there’s going to be chafing. A lot of it will be in unfortunate places like the insides of the thighs. This can leave your skin feeling raw and painful throughout the whole day. Lubrication is the key, here. Anti-chafing sticks and products like Vaseline can create a barrier that reduces chafing greatly when working out. Tight exercise outfits aren’t just good for circulation as mentioned above, they can suck the moisture from your skin and act as another layer to separate you from any chafing going on.


Are you feeling hangry? It’s the volatile mood (to put it kindly) that come on as a result of hunger. Properly tackling hangry feelings is about both measuring stress levels and how and what you eat. Even if you fuel yourself up and your energy levels are fine, your cravings can get out of control because your body believes that it needs more even if you know it doesn’t. Again, the lesson here is to make sure that you properly fuel yourself during workouts. But you have to learn to deal with the stress that can come with it. A post-shower meditation can do your mind and body a lot of good and take your thoughts away from your cravings.

Aching feet

If you’re doing a lot of walking, cycling, hiking, running, or standing exercises, then your feet are going to take a lot of the pressure and impact from your exercises. In the best of times, this means a lot of pain and blisters. If you’re not careful, it could mean particularly painful injuries like plantar fasciitis with could mean a lot of rest or even surgery. Make sure you’re wearing footwear that’s suited to the job, helping your feet breathe and flex while providing proper arch support. Spend time moisturizing and massaging your feet after a hard workout, too. Improving blood flow to the feet through compression socks and heat treatments will ease any pain, too.

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Dizziness is one of the most common side effects during and after exercise. Your blood sugar levels are going to naturally dip while you’re burning all that energy, and you might feel some vertigo as a result. If it happens during exercise, take a breather and have a walk to correct your blood flow and get back in the game. If you’re experiencing dizziness during even the lightest of exercises, however, it could be a sign of a deeper underlying problem and you may need to see a doctor. Some of the issues that can cause frequent dizziness even when you’re only exercising lightly can include exercise-induced asthma and arrhythmias. Both conditions are treatable, but if you’re reckless with exercise and suffering from either, the effects can be life-threatening.


Overall, exercise is good for your oral health and studies have shown that it reduces your chances of gum disease. However, depending on how you exercise, it can actually cause cavities and other mouth health issues. If you breathe with an open mouth, it dehydrates your mouth, which creates the perfect environment for the bacteria in your mouth to get out of control. Try breathing through your nose more often when possible and be even more thorough in hydrating and sloshing water in your mouth as opposed to just gulping it down. Of course, a thorough dental hygiene routine and regular trips to the dentist are going to be the greatest help of all.

If you haven’t exercised in a long time (or ever) then it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. You might have high blood pressure or heart-health issues that could mean you have to take it easy as you start. However, exercise will always play a vital role in your health, so don’t expect to get a pass to avoid doing it.


More about Aprill

Aprill Coleman is an award-winning beauty, lifestyle and wellness blogger and freelance writer based in Jackson, Mississippi.

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