A workout routine is vital for our general well-being including cardiovascular health. The heart is just like a battery of the body and daily exercises can help improve this battery’s life and output. This is possible because the heart is getting trained by exercises to handle more stress and transfer the oxygen-rich blood to all other organs, hence providing more energy. Staying active can help in the modification of risk factors like hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and inflammation that can result in heart diseases. And if done right, continuing exercises when having heart issues can even be safe.
However, there are instances when exercise can turn out to be too much for your body to accept and become a threat to cardiac health. When does this happen? Let’s look at certain warning signs of heart problems that one might experience during exercise. If you have any of them, immediately stop exercising and see a heart specialist. [1, 2, 3]
1. Chest Discomfort
Sudden chest pain or unexplained discomfort in the chest can be one of the first signs of an impending heart attack, especially while doing exercises. This feeling can range in its intensity from mild discomfort to intolerable pressure, and a fuller feeling at the center of the chest. It can be elusive and may appear and disappear. If this symptom persists for more than a few minutes, it’s time to promptly take help from a medical practitioner.
Furthermore, during physical activity, if one experiences chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing, it could be an indication of exercise-induced asthma which is more likely to occur if one has a family history of asthma. [1, 3]
2. Trouble in Breathing
An abnormal difficulty in breathing alongside chest discomfort or pinching chest pain during physical activity/ exercises could be a sign of a heart attack or its precursor. Breathing issues can happen either before one experiences chest pain/discomfort or even without any discomfort/pain in the chest. Normally, fast breathing or shortness of breath occurs when one does a workout. However, when one is doing physical activity or performing it at high intensity with ease suddenly gets winded/experiences shortness of breath, it could be due to a potential heart attack, exercise-induced asthma, heart failure, or any other medical condition.
Moreover, while breathing during straining exercises, one can also experience pain, swelling, and sharp pain. These could be due to muscle strain or injuries. The intercostal muscles which help stabilize the chest and allow normal breathing, might be injured. [1, 2, 3]
3. Light-Headedness, Extreme Tiredness, or Dizziness
Rigorous exercises can not only lead to body aches but also make one feel fatigued, dizzy, or light-headed. Mostly, this is because one has pushed too hard or didn’t eat or drink aptly before going for a workout. These symptoms could be a sign of diabetes, dehydration, a blood pressure problem, or possibly an issue with the nervous system. Dizziness could be an indication of a heart valve problem or an impending heart attack. If one is not able to get back to normal after taking breaks from exercises for water and snacks or if the light-headedness is accompanied by confusion, profuse sweating, or even fainting- one requires emergency medical attention.
One must be aware of the fact that no exercises should ever make an individual feel dizzy or light-headed, if that is happening it’s a for-sure sign that something is not right. If one experiences fainting along with chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness while exercising, it could be because of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. [ 2, 3]
4. Abnormal Heart Rhythms
Throughout the workout, it’s important to keep track of the heart rate. Exercises do raise the heart rate but during rest periods the heart rate must start to come down. One must realize that heart thumping, skipping, or palpitating are all indications of heart issues including a heart attack. If the heart rate is staying high or beating out of rhythm even at rest, it’s time to stop exercising immediately. [1, 2,]
Noticing a sudden chronic pain in the back, neck, or jaw radiating from the chest, may signal a heart condition like a heart attack, especially if the origin is not easy to pinpoint. However, if one is experiencing chest, tightness, pain, or pressure along with symptoms like difficulty breathing, jaw pain (feeling like a bad toothache), nausea, or fatigue, it could be a sign of angina and not a heart attack. If this pain/discomfort begins or worsens when one is exerting himself/herself, then exercising must be discontinued and medical help must be taken as soon as possible. [1, 3]
6. Profuse Sweating
Sweating is the body’s way to cool itself and maintain its internal temperature in balance with the atmospheric temperature/ weather conditions. A regular workout won’t usually cause much sweating but if the body is stressed, it will overcompensate. A sudden increase in sweating while exercising could be a sign of trouble. It could be a dangerous symptom of any sort of heart concern including heart attack, especially when it is accompanied by nausea. [2, 3]
7. Numbness in the Left Arm
While exercising, if suddenly one is not able to feel anything, except maybe tingling from shoulder to the hand, it could be a serious symptom of a potential heart attack. During a heart attack, there is an obstructed blood flow in the coronary artery because of a blockage. Sometimes, one might have problems with the arteries and veins that carry blood throughout the body. Vascular disease can result in numbness and tingling in the arm. 
It could be life-threatening, if one does not pay attention to any of the above-mentioned symptoms Continuing exercises and not going for immediate medical attention, if experiencing this symptom, can put one’s heart at risk of cardiac arrest and have long-lasting ill effects. Not only the heart, but these effects can also even impact other internal organs as they get deprived of oxygen to work normally. Thus, it’s recommended to slowly progress with a workout with the help of a trainer and not forget to rest, have a healthy diet, avoid smoking, drug, or alcohol intake, drink plenty of water, and even keep blood pressure and blood sugar levels in check.