It’s the final instalment of our Motivation Month blog series. For our last entry we want to share with you some encouragement by dispelling some common myths about exercise. There are some side effects to working out that you may find surprising, but trust us, it’s all positive indications that your body is hard at work.

Alice from the Fitness Team explains all.

Regular exercise is good for our bodies and minds, both our short and long-term health. There are lots of positive effects exercise has on our bodies physically and mentally, increased self-confidence, effectively, manage stress levels and overall 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.

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.  

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’.

Incontinence when running

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. 

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. 

Upset stomach

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. 

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.