Staying Hydrated While Exercising with Dysautonomia

If you have been diagnosed with dysautonomia, you’ve probably already been advised of the importance of exercise in treating your condition. At the same time, it’s essential to be aware of the limitations you face and plan for how to overcome these challenges.


What is Dysautonomia?

Dysautonomia is a general term for several chronic medical conditions, all of which affect the way your autonomic nervous system (ANS) functions. The ANS is the part of your nervous system that controls your involuntary bodily functions, like your heartbeat, digestion, and blood pressure. 

This condition is relatively common and is thought to affect over 70 million people worldwide. Due to its effects on the ANS, patients can experience balance problems, constant fatigue, swings in heart rate and blood pressure, migraines, low blood sugar, dehydration, and more. 

The ironic reality of patients with dysautonomia is that while one of the symptoms of the disease is dehydration, being dehydrated also makes the condition worse. Due to this, it’s essential that dysautonomia patients be properly hydrated at all times. 


Exercise with Dysautonomia

If you’re suffering from dysautonomia, the thought of exercising can seem utterly impossible. After all, when gentle, everyday activities like standing and shopping for groceries can leave you utterly fatigued and short of breath, exercise can seem like a goal that’s completely out of reach.

However, the fact is that exercise is a vital part of dysautonomia treatment. A study in Auton Neurosci notes that one of the factors that makes Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) (a type of dysautonomia) worse is cardiovascular deconditioning, which is a reaction to lack of physical activity. 

Additionally, exercising ensures that you can deal with daily life. As dysautonomia can be extremely debilitating, patients often spend much of their time in bed or sitting in one place. This affects your body’s general fitness and can make your condition worse. 

It is important to note that while exercise is recommended, it doesn’t need to be lengthy or intense. In fact, a study noted that 20-30 minutes of exercise thrice a week had noticeable benefits for the patient. Additionally, you should keep in mind that exercise isn’t recommended for every dysautonomia patient and depends on the severity of your disease. Before creating a schedule, it’s essential to consult your doctor and take their suggestions into account. 


How to Exercise with Dysautonomia 

Not all exercises are appropriate for dysautonomia patients. Since stress worsens symptoms, it’s recommended that patients opt for activities that do not cause orthostatic stress – that is, exercises that require you to sit in an upright posture.

Some common exercises for dysautonomia patients include swimming, cycling while lying down, and rowing – that is, exercises that can be done while sitting or lying down. You can also speak t your physical therapist about trying the Levin Protocol, an exercise program specifically developed to benefit patients suffering from POTS. 

Again, it’s essential to check with your doctor before committing to anything, as they will be able to give you a better idea of which exercises are appropriate for you. 

When you start exercising, make sure to:

  • Start slowly. You will have to discover what exercises work for you and what stress your body can tolerate. Additionally, patients with dysautonomia often suffer from exercise intolerance, which means you first need to be confident that your body can handle a given exercise before adding it to your routine. 
  • Don’t push it. You will need to accept that your body can no longer handle exercise the way it could before your diagnosis and adjust accordingly. While progress is slow, you will see changes in the way you react to exercise. As blogger Heidi points out, two minutes on the bike would require 45 minutes for her to recover from. However, she can now finish a 50-minute workout without difficulty – but it’s a mark that took her two years to reach. 
  • Make sure you’re supervised. If you’re just starting to exercise, ensure that you have medical supervision on hand in case you react badly to something. If your doctor has cleared you to work out on your own, ensure that there’s someone in your home when you exercise, just in case. As blogger Amy Keys notes, this ensures you’re safe and prepared for any eventuality. 
  • Don’t forget weight training. One of the biggest issues that people with POTS face is a circulation and blood flow problem. Blood tends to pool in the lower extremities, which can cause leg cramps and pain in the legs. Weight training can help reduce these symptoms while also increasing the strength of your leg muscles – a critical necessity, as lying and sitting down can reduce muscle strength over the long term. 


Managing Dysautonomia while Exercising

Aside from being careful about the exercises you’re performing, it’s essential to make sure that your body is well-fuelled before you start working out. One of the most important aspects of managing dysautonomia is adding more water and salt to your diet. 

This consideration is all the more important when you exercise since your body loses water and salt through sweat. Exercise is dehydrating, and dehydration only makes the symptoms of dysautonomia worse. 

Due to this, it’s crucial to be properly hydrated before you even start exercising. Additionally, make sure you have enough water on hand to consume while you exercise. 

Aside from water, you need to get enough salt daily. There are numerous ways to boost your salt intake, including salt tablets, salty snacks, and adding more salt to your food. 

That said, all of these options can be highly uncomfortable – after all, while extra salt may be necessary for your diet, that doesn’t mean you like the taste of salt. Instead, one easy alternative is to try Klaralyte tablets

These tablets contain 250 mg of sodium and 50 mg of potassium per tablet, helping to refuel your body with the electrolytes you lose during exercise. Additionally, unlike electrolyte drinks, you don’t have to force yourself to ignore the taste when you consume it – you can pair it with water and quickly swallow it down.



Exercising with dysautonomia can seem like an intimidating challenge, especially if you’ve not had a chance to do so for some time. However, the many benefits that it offers mean that you should definitely attempt it if medically allowed. 

Not only can exercise benefit you physically, it can also boost your self-confidence and level of independence. That said, it’s important that you understand the limits of your body and don’t push yourself further than your body allows. 

Additionally, make sure you’re properly hydrated when exercising. Not only do you need to consume enough water, you will also need to boost your salt and electrolyte intake to ensure your fluid levels stay high enough. Instead of salty drinks, consider switching to Klaralyte tablets to make consuming electrolytes easier. 

And don’t forget to take pride in your accomplishments – you may have only managed a few minutes of exercise today, but remember that you’re just getting started, and you’ve already overcome several challenges to get those precious minutes of workout time. As Heidi writes, [Exercise] “requires you to spend weekends resting and can push you to your limits, both mentally and physically. But for me, it is worth it.”

You will not be disappointed!

Additional Information

*Not Evaluated by FDA: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Klaralyte LLC manufactures dietary supplements and medical food products that should be used under the direct supervision of a licensed healthcare practitioner.

Designated Medical Food: Klaralyte Salt Capsules are classified as a medical food under 21 U.S.C. 360ee(b)(3), and are intended for specific dietary management based on recognized scientific principles, as evaluated by a physician.

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