Pain medications could hinder your ability to heal from an injury
NSAIDs work by blocking inflammation or swelling that can occur in response to tissue damage. While inflammation that is not controlled can be very dangerous, inflammation that happens in response to an injury is a sign of healing. When you’re injured, your body sends cells, called inflammatory cells, to the injury site to begin repairing the tissue. This repair process causes pain and swelling, a necessary part of healing, like a fever in response to an infection. So, if you suffer an injury like a torn ligament during a workout, NSAIDs could block the first step of the healing process. The ability of NSAIDs to reduce pain might also prevent you from noticing a minor injury until it’s more severe.
Statins and fibrates are two of the most commonly used drugs to treat high cholesterol. Fibrates reduce the amount of triglycerides (fat) in the blood while increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also known as “good” cholesterol. Statins work by decreasing the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, in the blood. Because of their complementary functions, statins and fibrates are sometimes taken together to keep cholesterol at a healthy level. However, the medications can make you feel fatigued and seriously impact your workout. Exercise and diet are both important to help manage cholesterol, so your doctor may have suggestions for staying fit while taking cholesterol medications.
People taking statins to lower their cholesterol may sometimes experience muscle cramps. In fact, muscle pain and muscle cramps are the two most commonly reported side effects of statins, although they usually only happen in the first few weeks of taking the medication. Doctors often advise against strenuous workouts or exercises that work the muscles too much when starting treatment with statins. For most people, these side effects will disappear over time. This is because statins block the production of so-called “bad” cholesterol in the blood. However, the drug also affects cholesterol levels in other cells as well. In the case of muscle cells, reduced cholesterol can impact muscle growth and function. This may be the reason statins causes muscle cramp.
Antidepressants while working out could cause injury
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are medications used to treat depression and some anxiety disorders. SSRIs are among the most prescribed drugs on the market and are the most popular medical treatment for depression. Around 4 percent of the global population is affected by depression. These drugs can be highly effective but can also have pretty serious side effects. Many people on SSRIs report feeling tired, dizzy, or sleepy. Exercising while drowsy or tired can result in serious injuries, especially if you’re doing workouts that require mental focus or balance. Because exercise can have a positive effect on mental health, people on SSRIs may want to talk to their doctor about ways to work out safely. A doctor can help you adjust your dosage or medication schedule to avoid or minimize side effects during a workout.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most common health conditions, especially in wealthy industrialized nations. Diuretics are one of the most frequently prescribed medications to manage hypertension. The drugs lower blood pressure by increasing urine production in the kidneys and removing excess water and salt from the body. This decreases blood pressure but can also increase your likelihood of becoming dehydrated after a workout. Because some exercises naturally reduce blood pressure, taking diuretics while working out can cause your blood pressure to drop to a dangerously low level. This is especially true for people taking ACE inhibitors, which are often prescribed in combination with diuretics. Staying hydrated and doing a slow cool-down after every workout can help reduce the risk associated with exercising on diuretics.
Antibiotics treat bacterial infections by killing bacteria or stopping them from reproducing. Certain strong antibiotics like fluoroquinolones are able to take on particularly bad infections but not without some side effects. Fluoroquinolones are known to cause painful swelling and tears in the tendons, the rope-like tissue that connects our muscles to our bones. The risk of tendon injury is highest during rigorous workouts like cardio and resistance training. Fluoroquinolones may also impact the health of ligaments, which connect bones to other bones, Many doctors advise skipping your workout routine while taking fluoroquinolones. If you don’t want to do that, you can try low-intensity workouts that don’t put much strain on tendons and muscles. It would be best if you also were especially careful while stretching, as that is when tendons are most vulnerable to overstretching and strain.
Diabetes medications can cause dangerously low blood sugar
In healthy people, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that helps process sugar to be used as energy by cells. However, type 2 diabetes is a disease that results from an inability to produce insulin and an accumulation of sugar in the blood. Sulfonylureas are drugs that increase insulin production and lower blood sugar levels. These medications are particularly effective when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise because physical activity helps lower blood sugar levels. However, doctors caution that people with diabetes taking sulfonylureas or insulin should monitor their blood sugar before, during, and after their workout to ensure their blood sugar doesn’t drop too low. Blood sugar monitors can accomplish this quickly and with minimal inconvenience.
Opioids are powerful pain medications that treat moderate to severe pain from surgery, cancer, and other ailments. These drugs work by blocking the pain signals that travel from the body to the brain, causing a euphoric feeling. Opioids need to be taken with caution and at the precise direction of a doctor because improper use can lead to dependency and addiction. Even when taken as directed, opioids can cause a few side effects that could impact your ability to exercise. Opioids can make you feel dizzy and disoriented, increasing your risk of falling or injuring yourself while working out. They also slow your heart rate and breathing, making it harder to engage in demanding exercise activities. Shorter workouts, low-impact exercises, and machines like ellipticals that keep you stable can help you work out safely on opioids.
Seizure medications might leave you dizzy and tired
Anticonvulsants are medications that block or change the way brain cells communicate, preventing seizure activity from spreading in the brain. These drugs are highly effective, reducing seizures in around 70 percent of people who take them. Nonetheless, many people on seizure medications experience side effects that might make exercise difficult or dangerous. Two of the most commonly reported side effects of anticonvulsants are dizziness and fatigue. Both of these side effects can increase the risk of injuring yourself during a workout. In addition, some people on seizure medicine also experience vertigo, which is an extreme feeling of lightheadedness and imbalance that is sometimes described as dizziness. People who experience dizzy spells or vertigo can still work out but are advised to do low-intensity exercises and avoid rapid head movements.
Stimulants are drugs used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and some sleep disorders. They are also found in some kinds of cold medicines. Stimulants work by altering the level of chemicals that nerve cells use to communicate with each other. These medications can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, all of which are dangerous while exercising. Working out before taking stimulants can prevent these side effects from impacting your exercise routine. Additionally, a doctor may be able to prescribe and also be able to help you adjust your dosage to reduce the side effects of stimulants and allow you to exercise safely.
Beta-blockers can help people with high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease by blocking adrenaline, a hormone that stimulates the heartbeat. When adrenaline is blocked, the heart rate slows down, causing blood pressure to drop. Both heart rate and blood pressure increase during most exercises. Beta-blockers prevent these normal increases. People taking these medications may notice a decrease in endurance and that they feel drained and short of breath while working out. Carefully monitoring activity is recommended to avoid overexertion. Because low blood pressure can cause you to feel dizzy and unbalanced when you sit up or stand suddenly. Some doctors recommend avoiding sudden position changes while on beta blockers.
Taking a stimulant like amphetamine can help you manage symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, a disorder that causes people to feel excessively drowsy and fall asleep suddenly. These medications increase the levels of the brain chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine plays essential roles in many brain functions, including attention and movement. Sometimes people taking stimulants feel jittery and experience tremors, or uncontrollable shaking, usually in their arms and hands. Fortunately, these side effects can usually be alleviated by adjusting the dosage. Exercising with a tremor is still possible. Lower-impact activities like swimming and tai chi allow people with tremors to stay fit while reducing their risk of injury.
Many conditions, including over-exercise and dehydration, can cause muscle spasms when the muscle suddenly and painfully contracts. Muscle relaxers help relieve these spasms by blocking nerve cells from communicating with muscles and preventing involuntary muscle contractions. The medications, while effective, can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and blurred vision, all of which affect the ability to work out safely. You can avoid these side effects by using other methods to treat muscle spasms, such as ice, a heating pad, or a massage. Muscle relaxers should only be taken for a short period of time, so you might choose to skip the gym while treating muscle spasms.
Sedatives are sleeping aids that help people with insomnia and other sleep issues sleep. So, it’s no surprise that they make you drowsy. However, the effects of the drugs may last longer than intended, leaving you feeling groggy and disoriented even after you’ve had a good night’s sleep. This effect, called a “daytime hangover,” may spoil your workout by making you unable to focus, uncoordinated, and more likely to injure yourself. Avoiding exercising in the morning, when you’re most likely to be drowsy, can help you avoid this side effect. Switching to a different sedative that is not active as long may also help.
Antihistamines block sweat and cause you to overheat
The body releases histamines in response to an injury, causing swelling. Although this can be uncomfortable, it is essential to protect the body from infections and injuries. However, when histamine is overly reactive, it can mistake harmless things like plant pollen, animal hair, or certain foods as dangerous, causing an allergic reaction. Antihistamines stop this reaction by blocking histamines from being released. Some antihistamines, namely diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can also prevent you from sweating. Perspiration, especially while exercising, help you cool off, so blocking and preventing sweating can cause you to overheat. Taking different antihistamines like cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), or fexofenadine (Allegra) are safer options if you’re working out. Also staying hydrated or working out before you take antihistamines can prevent overheating.
In addition to causing overheating, some antihistamines have been shown to impact your body’s ability to recover after a rigorous workout. For example, a study from 2016 found that the antihistamine fexofenadine (Allegra) blocks the genes that help increase blood flow to the muscles after exercise. This blood flow is vital for muscles to recover, and consistent training will help muscles grow stronger. So, while antihistamines might mean less muscle soreness and weakness the day after hitting the gym, they may also reduce the long-term benefits of your workout. The study also found that the use of antihistamines before working out could dampen improvements in resting heart rate that usually results from regular aerobic exercise.
There are wide varieties of antihistamines on the market, including fast-acting antihistamines like Benadryl and newer long-lasting antihistamines like Claritin and Zyrtec. Drowsiness is Benedryl’s most common side effect, so much so that some people use it as a sedative to help them sleep. But even long-lasting, non-drowsy antihistamines can make you feel sluggish and uncoordinated, which can seriously hurt your workout. Scheduling exercise before you take antihistamines can help you avoid these side effects. You might also consider switching to different, non-antihistamine allergy medicine. Alternatives to antihistamines include allergy shots and corticosteroid nasal sprays and inhalers.
Most people reach for over-the-counter medicines to relieve nasal congestion when a cold or flu leaves them with a stuffy nose. Most of the common decongestants in cold medicine contain stimulants, usually pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. These stimulants work by opening up blood vessels, which decreases swelling and congestion inside the nose. However, stimulants can leave you feeling jittery, increase your blood pressure, and raise your heart rate, even causing heart palpitations. Like antihistamines, it may be better to delay taking stimulant decongestants until after your workout to avoid dangerously a high heart rate. Some doctors may also recommend taking cold medicines that contain non-stimulant decongestants, including some nasal sprays.
ACE inhibitors are drugs commonly used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). They work by blocking a molecule that causes blood vessels to narrow. As a result, ACE inhibitors decrease blood pressure by allowing blood vessels to open wider, reducing pressure on blood vessels. With any drug that lowers blood pressure, you must be careful to avoid hypotension (low blood pressure), especially while exercising. ACE inhibitors are also frequently prescribed with diuretics, decreasing blood pressure. People taking either or both of these medications are encouraged to do gradual cool-downs to avoid an excessive drop in blood pressure following a workout. Post-exercise hypotension can occur in anyone but is a particular risk for people taking medicines to manage high blood pressure.
Laxatives are used to treat occasional constipation. There are several types of laxatives, each with a slightly different way of promoting regular bowel movements. Stimulant laxatives do this by causing the muscles of the intestines to contract and move poop through the digestive tract. Although stimulant laxatives are the fastest-acting and often the most effective, they can cause stomach cramps and abdominal pain while working. This may make it difficult or uncomfortable to work out. Skipping the gym until you’re no longer constipated is one way to avoid stomach cramps while exercising. Another option is choosing a more gentle laxative that softens stool by absorbing water into the intestines. These laxatives may not work quite as fast as stimulant laxatives, but they are much less likely to cause cramps.
Dietary supplements may get your heart pumping too fast
Even if you’re not taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, you could still deal with side effects that might make your workouts dangerous. For example, elevated heart rate is a side effect of several common dietary supplements, including the natural sleep aid valerian and ginseng, a root that is used to boost energy and reduce stress. Taking any substance, natural or otherwise, that raises heart rate requires extra care while working out. Exercising before taking supplements and monitoring heart rate are two ways to work out safely while taking supplements. Remember that while natural remedies may have fewer side effects than some medications, they can still carry risks and should only be taken under supervision from a medical professional.
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