Why Does My Chest Hurt When I Exercise?

All people, even those in excellent shape, can experience pain in their chest while exercising. The causes of this chest pain can range from benign to potentially fatal, so it’s vital that you’re able to recognize the symptoms which accompany a serious underlying issue.

In this guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the most common causes of chest pain during exercise, as well as the best methods of treatment and prevention. We’ll also look to answer a number of the frequently asked questions.

Why Does My Chest Hurt When I Exercise

Causes Of Chest Pain

There are a number of different causes of chest pain that people might experience during exercise. These include less problematic issues such as asthma and muscle strain, as well as serious conditions like heart attacks and angina. We’ll now look to explain each cause in a little more detail.


This is a common health condition that affects the airways in the lungs. Individuals who suffer with asthma typically have inflamed airways that tighten in response to a range of different triggers - one of which is exercise.

Furthermore, individuals with a family history of the condition are significantly more likely to develop it themselves. Some of the most common symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

Muscle Strain

Another common reason why your chest might be hurting during exercise is muscle strain. In fact, according to research, almost half of all reported cases of muscle strain in the chest are related to the intercostal muscles. These are the muscles that stabilize the chest and help people to breathe.

Overuse is the most common cause of a muscle strain, so people who exercise their chest muscles on a regular basis are much more likely to experience a strain or tear.

The main symptoms of a muscle strain in the chest are bruising, swelling, sharp pain, discomfort while breathing, and difficulty moving the area.

Heart Attacks

The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction, and this occurs when a person’s coronary arteries become blocked. This type of blockage usually causes the heart to lose oxygen.

Heart attacks can cause pain in several parts of the upper body including the chest, back, and jaw. This pain can go away and return a number of times or it can last for longer for a few minutes.

The most common symptoms of a heart attack include pressure or pain in the chest, nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Furthermore, women are also likely to suffer from back pain, jaw pain, and vomiting.

If anyone experiences a heart attack, no matter how healthy they might be, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. Those most at risk of suffering a heart attack are people aged 65 and over.


Angina is a pain that originates from the heart, with the main cause a lack of blood flow to the area. If this occurs, you’ll likely feel pain, pressure, or tightness in your chest.

Some other symptoms of angina to keep in mind include a shortness of breath, tightness in the arms or jaw, fatigue, and nausea. Angina can be caused by exercise and stress, with many people often mistaking the pain and symptoms for a heart attack.

Moreover, women are up to three times more likely than men to experience jaw tightness and throat pain because of angina according to the American College of Cardiology.


If you experience any kind of new, unidentified, or worsening chest pain, it’s important to seek medical advice. This is because a doctor can help to determine the underlying cause of the pain and recommend a suitable treatment plan.

For symptoms of a heart attack, it’s a good idea to seek emergency medical treatment. As mentioned above, chest pain is the most common symptom to look out for, but there are plenty of others including a shortness of breath and nausea.

If you’re suffering from exercise-induced asthma, you can receive specific treatment to resolve the problem. For example, a doctor might be able to prescribe you medication that’ll allow you to continue exercising and participating in your favorite sports.


Unfortunately, not all chest pain is preventable. Nevertheless, there are still some tips you can keep in mind to prevent a number of causes of chest pain such as asthma, heart attacks, and strains. Listed below are a few ways you can do this:

  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco smoke
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Control high blood pressure with medications
  • Manage asthma with medications
  • Exercise regularly

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s The Best Exercise For The Heart?

The best kind of exercise for the heart is aerobic exercise, which should be done at least five times a week, for at least 30 minutes at a time. Some of the best examples include running, brisk walking, swimming, and cycling.

When doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, heart-pumping aerobic exercise is the ideal type of activity they have in mind.

Why Does My Heart Beat Hard When I Exercise?

When you begin to perform physical activity, your muscles demand a greater amount of oxygen and work significantly harder. This increased demand causes the heart to beat faster in order to produce a higher overall blood flow.

Furthermore, the sympathetic nerves also stimulate the veins which causes them to compress.

Is It Normal For Your Heart To Flutter During Exercise?

It’s not uncommon for people to experience heart flutters or palpitations before and after exercise, but during exercise is a lot more concerning. This is because when people start to exercise, their heart rate increases, with the palpitations (or extra beats) usually disappearing at this higher heart rate.

Which Fruits Are Good For A Healthy Heart?

The best type of fruits are strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries - all of which are packed full of important nutrients that help to develop good heart health.

What’s more, berries are also jam-packed with antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which help to protect against the inflammation and oxidative stress associated with the development of heart disease.

The Bottom Line

To conclude, there are a range of conditions that can cause chest pain during exercise, from minor muscle strains to more severe health issues such as heart attacks and angina.

Anyone who suffers long-lasting chest pain should consult a healthcare provider immediately for suitable treatment. Failure to do so could result in serious, life-threatening problems.

Kevin Harris