Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Workout?

If you experience abdominal pain during or after exercise, it’s important to pay attention to your body and figure out what might be causing the discomfort. There are several possible reasons why your stomach might hurt when you workout, and it’s important to rule out any serious causes before assuming it’s just a normal part of exercise. If you’re experiencing stomach pain during or after exercise, read on to learn more about the possible causes and what you can do to ease the discomfort.


Although workout-related stomach issues can be uncomfortable, they are not always cause for concern. This article will explain some of the possible causes of stomach pain while working out and offer some tips on how to prevent them. Stomach pain during exercise can present itself in a variety of ways, such as cramps, bloating, nausea, or general discomfort. It can range from mild annoyance to severe pain and can even interfere with your daily activities.

Learning more about the causes of workout-related stomach issues and how to prevent them will help ensure that you stay comfortable throughout your fitness journey. Common causes of stomach pain include dehydration, low electrolytes, improper nutrition timing or type, and inflammation due to overexertion.

The treatment for these conditions will vary depending on the root cause, so it’s important to know what type of stomach discomfort you’re experiencing in order to get the best care possible. Fortunately, many common causes of workout-related stomach discomfort are preventable by properly preparing for physical activity and taking appropriate measures during exercise sessions.

Causes of Stomach Pain During Exercise

Stomach pain during exercise can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. It can stop you from working out completely and ruin your fitness goals. But why does it happen? Let’s explore the various causes of stomach pain during exercise and how to prevent it from happening.

Intense Exercise

Intense exercise, also known as overexertion, is the most common cause of stomach pain during workouts. Intense exercise stimulates peristalsis, which is the wave-like motion of your intestines that helps propel food and other substances through your digestive system. When you overexert yourself during a workout, this muscle activity can be too much for your body to handle and it may result in stomach pain.

Other possible causes of chronic stomach pain following exercise include dehydration, poorly-timed meals, repetitive exercise movements (such as running) putting pressure on certain areas of digestive organs or visceral structures such as your liver or gallbladder. There may also be an underlying anatomical issue causing abdominal discomfort such as a hiatal hernia or ovarian cysts in women. If you have recurring bouts of stomach pain following workouts that do not respond to simple treatment like rest or hydration, it’s best to seek medical attention to ensure there is no underlying condition causing the symptoms.

Eating Before Exercise

It is important to eat correctly before exercise to avoid the risk of stomach pain. Eating too close to exercise can cause food to sit in the stomach and abdomen, resulting in cramping or discomfort. It is recommended that moderate to heavy meals are eaten at least three hours prior to exercise, while light meals or snacks can be eaten one hour before if necessary. Eating the right kinds of food before a workout and ensuring proper hydration levels will also help reduce the risk of experiencing stomach pain during exercise. Foods that are easily digestible such as yoghurt, fruits, carbohydrates, toast and protein bars should be consumed when looking for pre-workout fuel.


When we exercise, our bodies sweat away water to cool us down. Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough fluids or electrolytes in its system. This is especially common during intense physical exercise and in hot, humid weather conditions. When dehydrated, the body overworks to replace lost fluids and electrolytes, causing bodily sensations like pain or dizziness that manifest as stomach cramps or pains. It’s important to stay hydrated during workouts by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after physical activity. It can also help to add some electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chlorine in addition to drinking enough fluids each day. Reducing activity if feeling really tired or striving for a more moderate level of intensity may also be beneficial for avoiding dehydration-related issues with stomach pain or cramping during exercise sessions.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can be a leading cause of stomach pain during exercise. When we experience periods of stress, the body’s natural “fight or flight” response is activated. This response causes muscles to tense up and can lead to cramping, especially in the abdominal area. In addition, psychological issues such as eating disorders or body dysmorphia may lead to tension in the abdominal area that can cause cramping when performing physical activities. Seeking treatment for underlying mental health conditions is essential for reducing stress-related stomach pain when exercising.

Certain Foods

Certain foods and beverages can lead to stomach pain while exercising. Large meals, spicy foods, high-fiber wheat products, gas-producing fruits and vegetables (like broccoli, beans and cabbage), caffeine, carbonated beverages, fried foods, and high fat or sugar-filled processed snacks can all lead to abdominal cramping. In addition, drinking too much alcohol or exercising on a full stomach can also cause cramping. If you experience stomach upset or pain while exercising after eating a particular food type it is best to avoid eating it before physical activity in the future.

Preventing Stomach Pain During Exercise

Exercising with a sore stomach can be very uncomfortable, but it can be prevented by following some simple steps. Stomach pain during exercise is usually caused by eating too close to the time of the workout, being dehydrated, or having a lack of nutrients in your diet. Let’s discuss how to prevent it from happening.

Eat a Balanced Diet

For athletes and those engaged in regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet that provides adequate nutrition is absolutely essential for both performance and maintaining good health. A balanced diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains, quinoa, legumes, nuts and seeds), healthy fats (such as olive or coconut oils) and lean sources of protein (such as fish, poultry or legumes). Eating breakfast prior to exercising is also important to fuel the body with long-lasting energy throughout the activity. Avoiding empty calories from sugary drinks or processed/refined foods can also help your body stay energized while keeping stomach pain at bay. Additionally, it can help to ensure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day leading up to exercise—dehydration can cause nausea during workouts.

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated during exercise is essential for maintaining optimal health and fitness. It’s especially important to drink water before, during and after exercising to keep your body properly hydrated. Dehydration can cause a number of issues such as dry mouth, thirst, headaches and lightheadedness. It can also lead to stomach pain during or after exercise – due to decreased intestinal function caused by the lack of fluids. Drinking water before, during and after physical activity helps support digestion and minimize the chances of experiencing abdominal cramps or other forms of stomach discomfort.

It is recommended that you aim for an ounce of water per hour of activity (with more in hot conditions). You should also adjust your water intake according to how much you sweat. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before your workout begins, since dehydration can start happening even when your body has just begun burning energy. Also have a full glass within 30 minutes after completion in order to provide adequate replenishment to prepare you for the next training session.

Exercise at a Moderate Intensity

Exercise that is too intense can cause your stomach to hurt, so it is important to make sure you are exercising at a moderate intensity. When beginning a workout, start out at a low intensity and gradually increase the intensity level. Monitor your breathing patterns to make sure that you are able to speak comfortably while working out. It is also important to maintain your posture during physical activity as good posture helps support optimal muscular function and overall body balance. Remember that the goal for any physical activity is progress not perfection, so focus on listening to your body and setting realistic goals for yourself.

Take Breaks

To help avoid stomach pain during exercise, taking regular breaks is recommended. Recent studies have shown that you don’t necessarily have to take a full break to see benefits, although this can be helpful for some people. Aiming for a few minutes of rest every 5-10 minutes of activity can help counteract fatigue and also give your body the opportunity to digest any food consumed before or during the workout. This stagnation in activity level will reduce how hard your body is working and make it easier for your digestive system to process its contents without having to struggle against playing catch-up with your physical activity. In addition, practice deep breathing throughout each rest segment—this will allow more oxygen circulation in your abdomen and relieve any pain or discomfort that may arise due to strenuous physical movements.

Listen to Your Body

When you take part in any physical activity, it’s important to listen to your body and respond accordingly. If you experience slight stomach pain, reduce the intensity of your workout or switch to a lower-impact option such as swimming or biking. Other tips include eating a light snack about 30 minutes before exercising and avoiding foods that may upset your stomach for at least two hours before exercising. Also, make sure to always stay hydrated during workouts as dehydration could lead to stomach discomfort.

If you find yourself experiencing severe abdominal pain during a workout, stop immediately and take some steps to alleviate the symptoms. Eat something small like a piece of toast or crackers with peanut butter or cheese; drink clear fluids like water, apple juice, ginger ale; practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing; apply heat or cold packs; drink some peppermint tea; and rest for several hours. If your symptoms don’t go away after trying these measures, consult with your doctor.


Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and can be enjoyed safely with proper preparation, hydration, and understanding of how your body responds to exercise. When experiencing abdominal pain or other discomfort during or after exercise, speak with your doctor to determine the cause.

While it’s possible that changes in dietary habits or other issues might be the culprits behind your problems, it’s also possible that the abdominal pain may be linked to an overuse injury or something more serious. A doctor can help you better understand what could potentially be happening in your body so you can make the necessary modifications to stay safe and healthy.

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