How to Keep These 8 Medications from Ruining Your Workout

Dec 6, 2017

Do you know what the hardest part of working out is?

It’s not finding the space. You can literally exercise anywhere.

It’s not figuring out what exercises to do. There are TONS of free resources out there.

It’s not the exercising itself, though that can definitely be a challenge.

The hardest part of working out – for me, at least – is getting up to actually do it. Whether you work out in the morning, during lunch, after work, or late at night, the motivation to get there and get started can be the hardest barrier to break.

But once you finally get there, it’s off to the races…usually…

How would you feel if you finally mustered up the will to get to your preferred workout location, only to realize that you actually feel like crap.

You thought you were ready to conquer the squat rack and kill your Zumba class, but your body is having none of it.

What’s up with that?

It could be a lack of sleep or maybe you didn’t eat recently enough. But it could be something else that we rarely think about.

We know about drug-drug interactions (like avoiding potassium supplements with spironolactone) and even drug-food interactions (like avoiding grapefruit juice with many medications), but did you know that drug-exercise interactions exist too?

This post is for the workout enthusiasts out there or the people who are wanting to start exercising more but are concerned because they are taking medications.

You’ll learn 10 common medications (OTC and prescription) that could put a damper on your workout routine.

And because I’m not the type to leave you hanging, I’ll also share some possible solutions with you. With these solutions, hopefully these medications won’t interrupt your exercise plans too much.

8 Common Medications That Could Affect Your Workout Routine

…and How NOT to Let Them!

1. Antidepressants

Examples: Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline)

Problem: The fatigue that drugs like antidepressants can cause is harmful to your workout in more ways than one.

First, fatigue is the ultimate motivation-killer. We talked about how hard it can be to get to the gym. How much harder is it when you feel sapped of all your energy?

Plus, fatigue is dangerous when working out because you may be tired and more likely to hurt yourself.

Solution: Plan workouts far away from the times you take your antidepressants or during times of the day when you are most alert.

2. Longer-acting Sleeping Pills

Examples: Lunesta, Ambien, Intermezzo

Problem: Longer-acting sleeping pills like Lunesta, Ambien, and Intermezzo cause what’s known as a daytime hangover. That basically means that the drowsy effects of the medication last into the next day and may cause you to feel groggy.

Solution: If you usually exercise in the morning, try working out later in the morning, in the afternoon, or early in the evening. ( I’m assuming that if you’re taking sleeping pills, you’re already having trouble sleeping. So don’t wait until too late in the evening to exercise, or else you may be even more awake at bedtime.)

3. Anti-diabetes Medications

Examples: insulin, glipizide, glyburide, glimepiride

Problem: People taking insulin and the gl- anti-diabetes drugs (aka sulfonylureas) are at a high risk of having dangerously low blood sugar. Since exercising also decreases blood sugar, it can be an even greater risk for people who are taking these medications.

Solution: This is a great time to mention that anyone taking any medications inthis article should speak with their doctor before exercising. It’s especially important for people taking these anti-diabetes medications to speak with their doctors. Your doctor may be able to change your medication or your medication dose. Under no circumstances shoul you change your medications on your own without getting the “ok” from your doctor.

4. Statins

Examples: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin)

Problem: Statins are one of the most common prescription drugs worldwide. They’re used to treat high cholesterol, but a potential side effect of statins are muscle cramps.

Solution: The muscle cramps that statins cause are likely to go away after a few weeks of taking the medication consistently. Until then, it may be best to stick to exercises that don’t strain your muscles too much.

5. Fluoroquinolones (FQs)

Examples: Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin)

Problem: FQs are super-strong antibiotics that are great at knocking out infections. One downside of FQs is that they can cause painful inflammation and/or tearing of tendons. Tendonx connect your muscle to your bones, so…clearly, you want those to be in tact. High intensity exercise could possible increase the likelihood of tendon problems if you are taking FQs, although this is controversial.

Solution: To be safe, consider taking it easy until you finish your round of FQ antibiotics. You may want to ask your doctor about exercises that aren’t so rough on the joints and tendons.

6. Decongestants

Examples: phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine

Problem: Decongestants can raise your heart rate and increase your blood pressure. If you think about it, your heart rate also goes up when you exercise. If your heart rate is already high, it may lead to decreased endurance, and you may get tired faster than usual.

Solution: Since decongestants are typically used for colds or allergies, you probably wouldn’t be taking them daily. On days you do take a decongestant, try a less tiring exercise routine that day or maybe decrease the intensity of your workout. You could also try not taking the decongestant within 4-6h before exercising.

If you have a stuffy nose or head, try these tips for choosing the EXACT cold medicine you need in 5 minutes or less. Plus, some helpful links to OTC cold medicines so you can order the medicines you want with the click of a button!

7. Antihistamines

Examples: Benadryl (diphenhydramine), chlorpheniramine

Problem: You may be familiar with the antihistamines Benadryl and chlorpheniramine, which are found in many cold and allergy medicines. You’ve probably heard that antihistamines can make you very tired – anywhere from a tad-bit drowsy to all-the-way knocked out. Obviously, that’s not great for your workout.

Solution: Benadryl and chlorpheniramine are 1st generation antihistamines. Second and third generation antihistamines (like Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec) don’t make people as drowsy. You might want to try a second or third generation antihistamine instead.

If you have a cold and are sneezing a lot, try these tips for choosing the EXACT cold medicine you need in 5 minutes or less. Plus, some helpful links to OTC cold medicines so you can order the medicines you want with the click of a button!

8. Opioids and Muscle Relaxants

Examples: Percocet (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), oxycodone, Soma (carisoprodol), Zanaflex (tizanidine)

Problem: Opioids and muscle relaxants can throw off your nervous system, causing blurred vision and extreme dizziness. They can also keep your nerves from telling your brain when you are in pain. This can be dangerous when exercising because you may be more likely to hurt yourself and not even know.

Solution: Talk to your doctor about whether it’s okay to take these medications long before you plan to exercise, for example, the night before. You’re probably only using muscle relaxants for a short time, so it may be best to wait until you have finished your medication to workout again.

You know at the beginning of workout videos when they mention you should talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program? This entire article describes one of the reasons why that disclaimer is there.

Exercising regular is a SUPER important part of getting and staying healthy. For most people, even those who have disease and take medications, are encouraged to exercise often.

But you’ve gotta make sure you’re doing it safely. Hopefully this post helps you do just that!

How do you get motivated to work out?