Why Do My Arms Turn Purple When I Workout?

If you’ve ever wondered why your arms turn purple when you workout, you’re not alone. Here’s what causes this strange phenomenon and how you can prevent it from happening.


Do you ever wonder why your arms turn purple when you work out? It’s a common phenomenon that can happen to just about anyone. In this article, we’ll explore why this occurs and how it affects your body. We’ll look at other conditions that can cause your arms to turn purple and discuss potential treatments. Understanding why your arms turn purple after exercise and what you can do about it is an important step towards improving your overall fitness routine.

Causes of Purple Arms

Have you ever wondered why your arms look purple when you work out? This is actually a pretty common phenomenon, and there are a few potential causes. Some of the causes could be due to the type of exercise you’re doing, while others are more serious and could require medical attention. Let’s take a look at some of the potential causes of purple arms.


Exertion is the most common cause of purple arms while you are exercising. This phenomenon is known as ‘exercise-induced vasodilation’ and refers to the widening of your blood vessels in response to physical exertion. Increased blood flow causes more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to your muscles, as well as increased removal of lactic acid build-up, which can leave muscles feeling sore after exercise. As a result, small vessels at the surface of your skin stretch, resulting in the familiar purple hue that is caused by minor capillary rupture. Although harmless, it is important to note that if you continue to exercise at a high intensity without allowing time for recovery then further circulation problems may occur.

Cold Temperatures

When you exercise in colder temperatures, your body kicks into overdrive to help keep you warm. Your arteries (the vessels carrying oxygen-rich blood from your heart) constrict and the veins (which transport the blood back to your heart) dilate. This can cause some of the capillaries to burst, which leads to them becoming visible on the skin surface as a purplish hue – known as ‘purpura’. Often times this discoloration is referred to as ‘blood spots’, or even more informally as ‘bruising’, even though no bruising has actually taken place. In addition to this physical reaction, you might also experience itching, heat or tingling at the affected areas. And while it can look and feel alarming, this type of purpura is usually harmless and will usually disappear without treatment within a few hours after working out.

Low Blood Pressure

Low or hypotension blood pressure can be a contributing factor to your arms turning purple when working out. Low blood pressure is generally considered to be a reading of 90/60 mmHg or lower, although what counts as low depends on each person’s personal medical background and any chronic conditions they may have. When you exercise, your body has to work harder to bring oxygenated blood to the muscles that are being used, and as a result, your blood vessels will constrict (narrow). This can reduce the amount of oxygenated that gets delivered, leading to a purplish discoloration in the skin called cyanosis. This is often accompanied by fatigue and lightheadedness. To ensure that you don’t experience this symptom during workouts, it’s important launch properly; begin with gentle stretches, slowly increase your activity level and take plenty of breaks for water if needed. Additionally monitoring your heart rate is important since an overly elevated heart rate can cause fainting due to inadequate oxygen delivery in the affected area. It’s best practice to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing any symptoms related to low blood pressure or have general concerns about exercise while having this condition.

Poor Circulation

One possible cause of purple arms when exercising is poor circulation due to tight muscles, either caused by intense physical activity or surrounding environmental factors like cold temperatures. When body muscles tighten, the constriction can cause the capillaries located near the surface of the skin to narrow, reducing blood flow and causing a temporary discoloration. While this discoloration is usually no cause for concern, it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition so if you experience persistent purple arms while working out, consult with your doctor.

Poor circulation may also be caused by illness, such as peripheral vascular disease or diabetes; smoking; dehydration; inactivity; being overweight; nutritional deficiencies; and even certain medications. If any of these conditions are causing your purple arms every time you exercise, ask your doctor how you can best alleviate your symptoms.

How to Prevent Purple Arms

Have you ever noticed your arms turning purple after a vigorous workout? This is a condition known as ‘purpura’, which can be caused by poor nutrition, dehydration, and overexertion. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent this from happening. In this section, we’ll go through some of the ways to avoid purple arms while working out.

Warm Up Before Working Out

When your arms turn a red or purple color after lifting weights, it’s a sign that you’re not warming up adequately before exercising. When you warm up, your blood vessels open up and the blood delivery increases to the muscle tissues. This helps to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, which in turn reduces chances of getting purple arms from working out.

Warming up before any type of workout is essential for keeping muscles healthy and performing optimally, so make sure to give yourself enough time for a thorough warmup. Your warm-up should focus on gradually boosting your heart rate and introducing movement in the specific joints and muscles you plan to work with during the session. Running or walking for around five minutes is ideal but some good dynamic stretches will suffice too – lunges, squats, arm circles – do whatever feels best. Listen to your breathing; it should be regular and controlled as you warm up.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Long sleeved shirts, tight fitting tights or arm bands to protect against environmental elements like dirt and debris, as well as compression garments to regulate your body’s temperature are the recommended clothing when exercising. It is important to wear garments that ensure adequate ventilation so sweat can evaporate quickly, wick away moisture, and keep your skin dry. Choose fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and spandex blends because they stretch easily with your movements and are strong enough to withstand frequent wear. Additionally, select fabrics that provide sufficient room for air circulation between your skin and clothes during workouts. It is also a good idea to layer clothing for more protection from cold temperatures if you will be working out outdoors. A light jacket or windbreaker also helps keep in heat without overheating the body which could lead to purple arms.

Adjust Your Workout Intensity

If you suffer from purple arms while working out, it may be a sign that the intensity of your workout is too high and should be adjusted. To reduce the amount of blood pooling in your limbs, avoid working out at maximum intensity for extended periods of time. Instead, try alternating between sprints and slow jogs in order to keep your workout intensity controlled.

If you are weight training, limit the number of sets you perform for each exercise. Start with lighter resistance to warm up and gradually increase the resistance over multiple sets as your muscles become accustomed to the workout. Doing so will help prevent overexertion which can cause discoloration in your arms during exercise.

Lastly, be aware of how long you are exercising for at one time―especially when doing cardio―and take adequate rest breaks if needed to ensure that you’re not pushing yourself too hard. When performed properly and controlled at an appropriate level of intensity, exercising can help raise endorphins rather than harm your body through extreme pressure on muscles and joints.

Increase Your Hydration

Being properly hydrated can help prevent purple arms and other adverse symptoms of vigorous exercise. Ensuring adequate hydration while exercising can help you avoid the risk of developing purple arm syndrome. Staying hydrated is a good rule of thumb for any kind of physical activity and will keep you feeling better during and after exercise.

Hydration best practices before and during exercise include:
-Drinking at least 18 ounces of water two to three hours before doing vigorous activities.
-Drinking about 8 ounces about 15 minutes before exercise or sports.
-Drinking about 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes throughout your workout or sports activity.
-Drinking an additional 8 ounces within 30 minutes after working out or playing sports.
Besides increasing your general hydration levels, drinking the right fluids helps replenish the essential electrolytes your body loses when you sweat — like sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience purple arms while working out, it is important to observe if any other symptoms are present. This can range from numbness, pain, or tingling in the arms and hands, to fever and chills. If any of these symptoms occur, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible to make sure there are no underlying issues or illnesses that could be causing the issue.

Severe Pain

If you experience severe pain, swelling or difficulty moving your arms, it may be time to see a doctor. You may even have difficulty breathing if the pain becomes increasingly severe. It is important to consult a medical professional to ensure that your symptoms are not related to other medical issues, such as an infection or inflammation of an internal body organ or system, or muscle strain due to strenuous physical activity. Additionally, if the color of your arms does not return to normal after resting for a specified amount of time, you should also seek medical attention. Remember that it is important to take care of any potential health issue as soon as possible in order to prevent long-term damage.

Numbness or Tingling

If you experience numbness or tingling in your arms when you work out, this could be a sign of something more serious than normal muscle soreness. Numbness and tingling are common symptoms of a variety of conditions, ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to diabetic neuropathy. Other signs and symptoms can include irregular heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and lightheadedness.

Depending on the cause of the numbness or tingling in your arms when exercising, a doctor may recommend any combination of tests and treatments. A full physical examination will assess all your muscles to check for possible nerve damage, muscle injury or pinched nerves. The doctor may also order imaging tests or blood tests to check blood sugar levels or other medical concerns that could be causing the symptom.

It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you experience any numbness or tingling in your arms while working out — even if it seems mild or intermittent at first. Ignoring the symptom can lead to long-term damage that can cause permanent disability if left untreated. Early diagnosis is vital for necessary preventive care measures like medications and lifestyle changes to avoid further progression of the condition.

Discoloration that Doesn’t Go Away

If you notice purple discoloration in your arms that doesn’t seem to be improving, then it may be time to consult a doctor. While it is normal for the muscles of the arm to turn purple and blue when working out, these symptoms should not persist once the activities have ceased. Additionally, if you notice swelling or pain accompanying the discoloration that is still present after a few days, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Your healthcare provider will ask questions about your symptoms and physical activity while conducting tests such as an ultrasound and blood work. These are done to help determine the cause of the discoloration and address any underlying issues. If you’re also experiencing muscle weakness or numbness in your arms, it is especially important to seek medical attention promptly. Additionally, if you find yourself short of breath at rest or during simple tasks like climbing stairs, seek medical attention immediately as this can be a sign of dangerous cardiac conditions such as coronary artery disease (CAD).


Overall, the answer to why your arms turn purple when working out is due to the oxygen-deprived byproducts of tissue metabolism in active muscles. Understanding the response won’t change your workout routine, but it may add another level of satisfaction when you manage to get an extra rep or two before seeing those infamous purplish discolorations.

If you’re experiencing any physical pain or exceeding your limits too quickly, take a break and make sure to properly hydrate yourself before returning. Finally, keeping up with a regular training schedule can help ensure that both your health and fitness improve over time. With practice and persistence, you’ll be able to make the most out of each and every session!

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