Gym Buddy Allison and I share many similarities: young children, a deep love of garage sales and thrift stores, and the same dark hair/light skin that always makes people ask us if we are sisters. Or just confuse one of us for the other. (Hint: she’s the taller one with whiter teeth and shiny hair – basically what would happen if the Old Spice Guy knocked up the Pantene lady.) Recently we discovered we also share something else, albeit a mite more disconcerting than our preoccupation with our body fat percentage: We faint.
That’s right, a condition normally associated with overly sensitive (or just overly corsetted) 19th-century rich ladies is felling super healthy Gym Buddies left and right. And it’s not just fainting but general light-headedness, dizziness and blacked out vision. Before anyone wigs out, it’s not as scary as it sounds, it only happens under certain circumstances and… it’s perfectly normal. Um, what?
Called Orthostatic Hypotension, it’s a seldom talked about side effect of exercise. While one of the known (great) side effects of exercise is lowered blood pressure, this can turn into a bit of a problem in situations that further lower your blood pressure such as suddenly stopping a vigorous exercise or suddenly changing positions. (I think I’m suddenly seeing a pattern!) Avid exercisers that already have low blood pressure are at particular risk for this. As ehow.com explains,
“Exercise can cause sudden changes in blood pressure. A change of 20 points in your blood pressure can cause you dizziness or even fainting. This happens because for that moment the brain isn’t getting enough blood. Athletes and those who exercise regularly tend to have lower blood pressure and slower heart rate. So a sudden drop of 20 points could easily put an athlete into the realm of low blood pressure.”
I found this out the hard way the other day while kneeling on my floor sorting ultra-adorable girly baby clothes for the Jelly Bean. (She has a silver tulle tutu! With silver patent-leather mary janes! Squeee!) I stood up to hang a dress in her closet and all of a sudden I’m hot, nauseated and my vision is all black. And next thing I know I’m slumped against the closet door on the floor with Jelly Bean staring at me with the cutest bewildered expression on her little squishy face.