By this time, you’ve probably realized that a lot of things can affect your exercise and sporting performance and those include your eating and sleeping routines, your own mindset and your training regimen. But did you know that the medications you are taking daily may be affecting your performance too?
Sure you knew that your occasional intake of your antihistamines (Benadryl) or those benzodiazepines (like Xanax, Ativan or Valium) may cause you to get groggy while you are at the gym, generally impairing your coordination. But you might have overlooked the fact that there are still other medications that could affect your stamina, balance, hydration status, concentration and more.
It’s true that not everybody might have the same reaction to taking the same medications plus the point that how a person responds to certain drugs may change overtime. So it is wise to consult a physician if you feel that the medications you are taking are affecting your fitness performance.
Below are some drug types that may present an impact in your sporting prowess and a bit of advice as to how you can take care of the situation.
Used in: treating allergies, sleep dilemmas, colds
Possible Effects: Causes impairment in concentration and drowsiness especially first-generation antihistamines like Benadryl. On the other hand, some newer, non-drowsy antihistamines like Allegra and Claritin can make you feel tired when taken which hastily lowers your levels of stamina. Also, these antihistamines can play a part in your body’s thermoregulation—it alters your sweating and cooling mechanisms which can make you overheat especially when exercising in hot weather.
How to Cope: To skip these effects, try exercising first before taking the medications. If you are somehow taking antihistamines to treat say a case of allergic rhinitis, then opt to use an intra-nasal spray (example: Flonase) as this will not affect your exercise performance per se. If you have colds, instead of using a multi-symptom drug, choose a medication that targets your exact complaint.
Medication Type: Anticholinergics
Used in: treating bladder-control problems and a few gastrointestinal concerns
Possible Effects: Most common side effects may include drowsiness and dry mouth which can be unbelievably uncomfortable during workout sessions. Also, this type of medication may decrease your ability to sweat which can increase the possibility of you becoming dizzy and over-heating in the process especially during the summer.
How to cope: You may want to work-out first before taking your medications or ask your doctor if it’s plausible to get a lower dose or try a different medication in the same class because the next one may not give you the same side effects.
Medication Type: Beta blockers
Used in: treating hypertension, chronic migraines, anxiety, irregular heart beats
Possible Effects: These can decrease your blood pressure as well as your body’s cardiac output which can result to you feeling sluggish, tired and short of breath when doing exercises. As an effect, you may not be able to workout at an optimal level.
How to cope: Yes you may not be able to reach your target heart rate because of the effects of the medications but it does not mean that you’re not reaping any of the benefits of exercising. Beta blockers can make you susceptible to experiencing orthostatic hypotension (sudden drop in blood pressure that happens when you stand up from a lying-down or sitting position), so be careful with sudden movements and changes in posture.
Medication Type: Diuretics
Used in: treating fluid retention, heart diseases and high blood pressure
Possible Effects: These drugs causes frequent urination, decreases blood volume as well as pressure,and reduces blood flow to muscles and tissues too. It increases your risk for dehydration, fatigues and experiencing frequent muscle cramps which may affect your coordination and balance especially when working-out.
How to cope: Ask your doctor if you can adjust the timing of your medication doses to stay clear of these effects. Drink lots of fluids pre and post exercises to refrain yourself from getting dehydrated. Eat foods that have an ample supply of potassium and coordinate with your doctor about any dose adjustments that you might need.