Why Your Pee Has A Dark Color After Intense Exercise

It's not entirely unusual for our urine to change color from time to time. For example, pee that is deep yellow in color may indicate that you're dehydrated and low on water. Oppositely, a lighter shade of yellow, orange, or even blue-colored pee could be a side effect of certain medications (via OSF Healthcare). Generally speaking, however, translucent urine that appears pale yellow in color is a sign that all is functioning as it should be.

Dehydration isn't the only potential cause for darker-colored urine, however. Sometimes, a person may notice color changes in their pee after a high-intensity workout. Why might this occur? The presence of dark pee following strenuous exercise may be linked to one of two conditions: exercise-induced hematuria or a health condition known as "rhabdomyolysis" (via Orlando Health). Although they share some overlap in symptoms, it's important to know the difference between these two conditions, as one is usually temporary while the other can have more severe outcomes.

What is exercise-induced hematuria?

Exercise-induced hematuria is usually short-lived and not cause for concern. Experts at theĀ Urology Care Foundation explain that the condition is characterized by blood that has made its way into one's urine, which may make pee appear darker in color. It's often seen in people who engage in intense physical activity, such as athletes who run upwards of 6 miles or those who partake in high-intensity interval training. The reason is that vigorous exercise can interfere with the body's natural blood filtration process.

As previously mentioned, exercise-induced hematuria is temporary and it usually subsides within three days. However, researchers from a 2014 study published in Renal Failure who studied incidence rates of post-exertional hematuria in nearly 500 individuals after they ran a roughly 3-mile race found that, for some individuals, the condition persisted for anywhere from seven to more than 14 days before subsiding. If, however, you still have blood in your urine after three days' time or you've begun peeing less than normal, be sure to talk to your physician.

What is rhabdomyolysis?

Referred to as "rhabdo" for short, the signature symptom of rhabdomyolysis is urine that has a dark color to it that develops after strenuous exercise. Unlike exercise-induced hematuria, which often resolves itself after approximately three days, dark-colored urine related to rhabdo may take anywhere from one to three days before it first emerges (via Orlando Health). Oftentimes, it is accompanied by additional symptoms, such as excessive stiffness, weakness, and swelling isolated to one muscle area.

Urine discoloration from hematuria is caused by blood, but pee that is dark in color due to rhabdo is the result of protein leakage from severe muscle damage caused by intense exercise. Known as "myoglobin," these proteins are dispersed into the bloodstream and may lead to kidney damage or renal failure. While intense physical activity is not the only potential cause of rhabdo, jumping into a rigorous exercise routine without being mindful of one's limits is a risk factor, particularly when outside in the heat. Medical treatment for rhabdo involves loading up the body with liquids to clear out the kidneys and usually involves IV treatments. Along with getting plenty of rest, you should consult with your doctor for advice on how and when to safely resume exercise.