Anxiety Support

Scared to exercise

I keep being told that exercise can really help with anxiety and I want to but how can you exercise when it gives you anxiety at the thought of it? All of my anxiety is centred around my chest and breathlessness.

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It was the single most effective thing when i had anxiety.

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Its the only thing that works for meee, aside from meds which i cant take any longer.

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Are you ok without the meds?

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Its been 7 months since discontinuing meds and it has not been easy. but that is more likely due to addictional life stressors. I wake up anxious almost every day and ususlly only able to control it with physicsl activity. Occasionally some mindfulness techniques will work but that is in days when it is not as intense. I think that IF my life were more in control I’d be fine without the meds.

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You seem to be on the right track, I hope you continue to improve.

Good on you for being positive.

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Thanks, its been a long struggle but it is what it is and we can only persevere in overcoming it.

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That is true, you will get there eventually.

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Hi Stellexxx0,

I have the same issue now but two weeks ago decided to give it a go. My worry was my heart because I was getting panic attacks and increased heart rate, so naturally I was worried my heart was bad. I went to the cardiologist this week and they did an ekg, blood pressure and ultrasound. All good in that department. Even my stress test went well. The only thing holding me back was I live alone and was scared if something happened during working out I wouldn't have help or if I went to the gym I may pass out or embarrass myself. I thought, I've never had problems working out before anxiety or for the past 30 some years of my life. I started out slow by using a 15 minute, beginner cardio video on youtube. They get your heart going but it's not too aggressive. You may be sensitive to your increased heart rate after finishing but it calms down. Make sure to eat something healthy like oatmeal or fruit and get a nice shower or bath in. The other day I did another video that was 20 minutes of cardio and had no issues. Each little win helps your mental confidence and your breathing gets better and does clear some of the worry out of your mind. My advice, if you're able to exercise is to do it with a friend until you're comfortable by yourself. It just takes that first initial push to get over the edge. Just take it easy and don't over do it at first. Hope this helps!

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Thank you for your replies. It is the feeling of breathlessness and then weakness all over from the anxiety that worries me even though I know that it is anxiety.

When I last went to the gym I had a massive massive panic attack as previously I had gotten breathless severely which I later discovered was a chest infection. This was the start of my anxiety.

I never thought to look on youtube first but I am going to give it a go.

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Yes, please do check it out. You can use the comfort of your home to exercise until you're well enough to get out to the gym or outside if weather is good in your region. I'm in Michigan and there's a foot of snow right now, LOL! Find an exercise buddy at the gym or a trainer. Trust me, look around the gym some time. You're not the only person feeling that way. Start with a nice, slow walk on the treadmill and hold the hand rails if needed. No one is judging you or rushing you. Take your time and smile.

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Thank you Titan. I feel that if I can get over this and eventually get back to the gym it will help me to get rid of this anxiety as that is where it started.

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You're welcome. I forgot to ask...did your chest infection clear up? I'm assuming you went to your doctor and got some medicine for it? If so, the shortness of breath is usually anxiety. You're on the right path being here and asking for help. It was so easy for me to think I was alone in this fight. Then I realized how selfish I was being and got help from family, friends, doctors and here. It will get better!

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It cleared up with antibiotics but set off my anxiety. I think that is why my main symptoms are all in the chest area. I can even feel weak in my chest!!

I have had CBT which helped to a certain level but it is still the breathlessness.. It can happen all day or on and off anywhere. Just feel that if I can face the fear of the gym it may help?

Thank you for saying that it will get better. I need to see that to know that all the fighting is worth it :-)

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Hi again! I feel we're going through so many of the same experiences right now so thanks for sharing your experience. I've had anxiety for years but nothing like the past six weeks or so. I've discovered it got worse when I had such a severe panic attack over Christmas break while trying to sleep. I'm talking major increased heart rate, sweating, numbness in arms and legs. It took hours to calm down and I didn't understand what was happening because it was something I'm not used to. I'm also on my 49th day of quitting smoking. When you quit you get withdrawal symptoms and start to slowly heal the body but have so many aches and pains you've never experienced before. Suddenly, I was turning into a hypochondriac and associating normal everyday events (like sleeping) with negative thoughts. I've been in a downward spiral of not sleeping, eating and struggling to even work or drive a certain distance without fear or having an attack. I've been to the hospital for artery check, stomach ultrasound, heart ultrasound, ekg, ecg, blood pressure, stress test. I'm also seeing a chiropractor and next week a physical therapist. I have a condition called, Chostochondritis. It's inflammation of the cartilage in the ribs. It makes breathing deep difficult and you're usually sore in the chest region in front and all the way around to the back. If I bend over quick to pick something up or tie my shoes, I get a poke in what feels like the heart. It's not the heart, it's the rib in that area. The good news is, it's normal and treatable and should go away with treatment. Anxiety has us tense even when we don't feel tense. My muscles are sore and tight because of it. Next I have to go see the doc for a thyroid test. I feel as if I'm stressed and tense even when my mind and heart rate is calm. Anyway, I'm getting to the bottom of this as fast as possible and won't accept it! I refuse to not feel normal again and be the person I was before this crap started.

The main reason (trigger) for my anxiety is the feeling of shortness of breath or not being able to breath. I've gotten better with doctor visits and ruling out worries that way. I'm also not taking any pills as I want to do this naturally and not cover up the root causes. Sounds like your trigger is the worry of not being able to breath or your heart is weak. Schedule your visits ASAP to the cardiologist and get that answer you seek! Stay in touch.

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Thank you so much for your reply. All of what you have said makes sense and I can so relate.

I would love to see a cardiologist but my doctor had refused to send me as he said that it is ‘just’ anxiety.

We will get through this 😀

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Please listen to your doctor I had chest pains and was rushed to A&E by my doctor so they take it really seriously If he says it's anxiety then it is and that's where you start to get well

Would be lovely for all who have replied to keep in contact to give each other support and enjoy each others progress

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I had a massive panic attack in the gym also. Ended up in A&E. Since then i freak out when my heart rate increases and i feel a little breathless. Ive recently started cycling to work and it's caused some anxiety but i'm getting through it. Take baby steps is my advice. I refuse to live my life not doing the things i love and i havent collapsed and died yet.

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That is what I was thinking. Little and often.

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I feel the exact same way. I'm scared about how my heart will feel since i get those weird feelings sometimes when I'm laying down and trying to go to sleep.

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Some time ago I had a long illness. When I recovered, after about 15 months, I was weak and had very little muscle strength. My doctor told me to do the following. First, find a completely flat place to walk (even if you have to drive to get to it). For the first two-three weeks walk in the flat place for 10 minutes. Walk slowly enough so that your heart rate does not accelerate, you do not have any breathlessness and do not perspire. Wear a watch and after walking for 5 minutes, turn around and walk back for the next 5 minutes After 2-3 weeks increase the time to 15 minutes. In another 2-3 weeks increase to 20 minutes. When you get to a half hour you can do anything you want. Just make sure at all times to not allow your heart rate to go up, not to be short of breath and not to perspire during the whole time period. This worked for me. After doing this, I began swimming and using other things and after another 2 months began ice skating.

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Brilliant advice and so thrilled for you to have done so well

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I literally just posted on my page about the same!!

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At least we know that we are not alone in this problem 😀

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I hate exercise because I find it boring. So I found a hobby I enjoy which is roller derby. I love skating and it helps make great friends dealing with a lot of similar things such as GAD, depression, etc. of not everyone will enjoy it. But if you like dancing maybe dance around in your room for half an hour or try a Zumba video.

Exercise doesn’t have to be running or hardcore endurance. Just do what you’re comfortable with to get your heart rate up a bit and increase that little by little. Have fun with it.

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Do you feel you won't be able to breathe ? If you do then that's not going to happen you will always get a breath it's just anxiety making your chest tight

Try walking every day if you start off by just going as far as you can then turn back day by day you will go a little further and get confidence with your breath

Baby steps and you will get there

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Thank you for your advise. I am going to try and take the dog out but, surprise surprise, the last time I did I had a panic attack. I will do it though and agree so much with the baby steps. Thought about going up the stairs a few times as well and increasing the amount of times daily.

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I know exactly how you are feeling I've got better by losing my fear of the symptoms of panic I've learnt they can't hurt me and they always die down

I looked at a book I use on your kind of anxiety and it says Your respiratory control centre has a reflex mechanism that will eventually force a breath out and you can't overide it with an anxious mind Hope that makes sense

Going up and down the stairs is good There are exercise videos on YouTube I know there is a walking indoors one

Good luck with your walk and remember panic can't hurt you it's just uncomfortable it's just adrenaline

All the best let me know how you get on I'm sure you will enjoy it Take care x

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Thank you. It is hard but will be worth it to beat it.

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Yes you can beat it it's all thoughts of what if that keep the panic going If you can keep thinking nothing is going to happen you will get there it's hard I know but keep at it and you will conquer it I promise

Take care and remember we are all here to listen and understand x

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I agree, but start by just having a few walks. I get anxious at the thought of exercise too. But someone said to me that when you do it you never feel afterwards I wish I hadn't. So please do give it a go. I keep trying, usually not succeeding, but please try to do something everyday

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Hi Stellexxx0. If you have doctors that you trust, go to your Family doctor, and let him refer you to a cardiologist. Once you get a clean bill of health you know that your fear is just worry, try not to worry. Stress has a negative affect on the body. Try exercises for 10, 15 minutes at first, then after you conquer that increase the amount of time you exercise. Having an exercise budding is always good, it helps to keep you motivated as long as they are willing to stick with it as well. When I start getting that anxious feeling, followed by a horrible headache, I exercise. My body releases endorphins and my headache and general feeling of doom goes away. Good luck with your exercise goals.

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I understand where your coming from. I lie to my boyfriend n kids that I do, so they can get off my back. I don't have the energy to excercise cause I can barely eat.

Anxeity takes everything out of you. It's a fight everyday to get through the day. Take baby steps, I walk to my outside mail box everyday and I go out for 2 hours on Wednesday because the street sweeper comes, I have to move my car or get a ticket that's my motivation for that? Good Luck

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This is an excellent thread. I have an arthritic condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis and costochondritis (inflammation of the sternum and ribs) is an ongoing issue. I had a massive panic attack on a dog walk, alone in the woods bought on by walking up an incline and getting severely out of breath as my ribs don't expand enough for efficient heavy breathing. As I genuinely struggled to catch my breath I became aware of my pounding heart and went into a spiral.

Since then, any exercise, even mild sets me off. I've made some sort of sub conscious connection between walking and anxiety. I haven't walked the dog in a year and get myself in a state taking the bins out, literally anything that raises the heart rate quickly.

Would love to hear how others have started getting back into exercise.

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I have had that too. Took the dog out and had a massive panic attack. I couldn’t stop thinking that as I was on my own, if anything happens and my heart stopped nobody would be there to help me.

I am at present building myself up to attempting to take my dog out. We can all beat this 😀

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Just try each day to go as far as you feel ok then walk back go a bit further each day

Good luck

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Start slowly, do a bit and then more the next day and it will get easier as you build up your recognition that it's not going to hurt you. Also you are getting air in your lungs, seeing the world around you, your senses will be swamped and the more you see hear feel smell you are reminded your alive, the stimulation of senses dilutes the anxiety focus you have now.

Try it. Good responses from many others saying it helped them.

Peace!

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Do it, it SAVED me, I swear. It was the hardest thing I ever did. but the only thing that ever worked.

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Thank you so much for all your posts. It has really really helped me to know that I am not alone. Baby steps, walks then gradully build myself up seems to be the way that you have all overcome your anxiety. I can and will do this :-)

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i know the feeling i'm afraid something will happen if i exercise like an af episode which i have also. then i get anxiety attack it's just a vicious cycle

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Oh, one more thing... I still am much more prone to anxiety in a gym. But outside I feel better (and this is coming from someone that suffered severe agoraphobia!) I started by trying to play tennis... I was so bad but there's something about it that distracted me...I could not ruminate. Now I run (badly) around the track at the local high school. I listen to podcasts while I do it and use a couple of apps like "couch25k" <-- so good! and runkeeper. Running or fast walking is really amazing.

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I have the exact same problem! I've been told to take it slow. I'm trying.

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