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Feel Anxious When You Exercise? Here's What to Do!

Feel Anxious When You Exercise? Here's What to Do!

If you experience lots of anxiety during or after exercising, or if you're avoiding exercising altogether, this episode is going to be super helpful for you!

Before we dig into it, let's start off with a big truth! Exercise doesn't cause anxiety. I get it, I know it doesn't feel that way. Exercise can mimic all those symptoms you feel when you're anxious - your heart races, you're short of breath, maybe you feel dizzy or uncomfortable. Because these sensations feel familiar, your immediate reaction is to say "nope!" and avoid them. How we respond to those thoughts and feelings, and what we do next is the important part.

It's also super helpful to remember that the sensations you’re experiencing when or after you're exercising are natural and they make sense! It’s truly your body taking care of you and doing what it’s designed to do.

Okay, let's jump into some tips that will be helpful for you.

  1. Ditch the Heart Rate Monitoring: If you find yourself obsessing over your heart rate during exercise, consider ditching the fitness watch or at least removing the heart rate monitor from it. I know it’s easier said than done, but checking and keeping track of your heart rate isn't useful information and it's only keeping you feeling anxious.

  2. Start Small: If exercising feels tough right now because of fear or discomfort, it's perfectly fine. Try going for a walk, doing some relaxed yoga, or even light lifting or stretching. Starting small allows you to gradually build tolerance to discomfort, and if desired, you can progressively increase the intensity of your workouts. And remember, exercise should be about feeling good and supporting your body, not pushing yourself too hard.

  3. Find a Partner!: Exercising with a partner (or pet) can provide support and make it easier to get back into exercising, especially if doing it alone is challenging right now. This can be a helpful step in getting you back to exercising and something that you won’t always need. You will get to a place where you trust you and your body again.

  4. Validate Your Feelings: When you're feeling all the things, a racing heart, palpitations, dizziness... it can be tempting to try and talk logic into your brain in an attempt to calm down. Instead, slow down, let yourself be with the feelings that come up and do your best to get back to it, or if you need to, take a break. Gentleness and compassion goes a long way in the recovery journey!

  5. Listen to Your Body: If exercise feels really hard right now, it can be because your system actually needs to slow things down. It may be helpful to focus on walking, especially in nature, and doing things to support your nervous system like drinking more water, eating nourishing meals, or reducing your caffeine or alcohol intake.

I know exercising and facing anxiety is really tricky and hard, but there are so many benefits, and these benefits will help you on your journey to heal and recover. Exercising is a great way to practice mindfulness, to practice tolerating discomfort, and helps to relieve stress. So, although it might be hard, I promise it's worth it. Make sure to listen to the full episode for all the helpful tips.

You’re so much stronger and more capable than you think you are! You can absolutely handle all the feelings, after all, you always have.

Man and woman running


Struggling with lots of what-if thoughts that lead to some really uncomfortable sensations and symptoms? Sign up for my 90-minute masterclass and learn how to approach your thoughts and feelings in a healthy (and very practical) way so that you can get freedom from them!

Feeling like you've tried everything but you're still struggling with lots of anxious thoughts, symptoms, panic attacks, and fears? Take my FREE 60-minute masterclass today and learn 5 shifts that will actually help you to overcome anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. And I promise, you won't hear any of the usual stuff from me - like doing breathing exercises, grounding practices, cutting out caffeine, and doing more exposures. Let's get you the peace and freedom you deserve without it being so hard!


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