1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Why Do I Get Dizzy When I Stand Up?

Postural Hypotension - Orthostatic Hypotension


Updated May 16, 2014

Mature woman recovering after a cross country race
Paul Viant/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
If you exercise often and are in good shape you might occasionally experience dizziness and lightheadedness when you stand up quickly. This is generally nothing serious, and occurs due to a slow heart rate.

Cardiovascular exercise makes your heart stronger and a stronger heart has a larger stroke volume. That is, the amount of blood pumped out during each beat is greater, so the heart doesn't have to beat as often. A slow pulse rate is an indication of a strong, healthy heart. However, a slow heart rate can sometimes lead to dizziness when you change position.

When you stand up quickly gravity pulls blood from your brain towards your feet and blood doesn't return to the brain until the next heart beat. With a slow pulse, this takes a second or two and that is enough time to feel the lack of oxygen in the symptom of lightheadedness or dizziness. It is also related to something called postural hypotension. This results from a decrease in blood flow to the brain, due to a drop in blood pressure upon standing up.

As long as it occurs only occasionally, you don't really need to worry. If you have constant and severe dizziness with changing position you should see a doctor to rule out an underlying condition such as an irregular heartbeat.

Quick Tip: If you have a slow pulse (50 or less) and experience dizziness when standing up try getting up more slowly and see if that solves the problem.

Chronic endurance exercise training: a condition of inadequate blood pressure regulation and reduced tolerance to LBNP. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993 Jun;25(6):713-21. Review.

An overview of the problem: exercise training and orthostatic intolerance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993 Jun;25(6):702-4. Review.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.