Exercise! - Anyone else here with an exercise phobia/anxiety?

12-08-2006, 06:34 PM

I'm Cathryn. I usually hang out just in the Alternachicks groups because my being a Pagan has made others uncomfortable in other boards I've been on. But recently I've gotten to a place where I can honestly look at a serious problem I have. I think I have a phobia to exercise. It brings up tons of overpowering, negative feelings for me, and I dread it far more than is normal.

Having asthma doesn't help, but I don't believe it's the whole story, either. I'm sure it contributes. Losing one's breath easily is scary. Certainly to get over this, I will need to have the asthma in mind.

I do not believe this is a recognized or well-understood phobia. The one idea I got from a lengthy Google search is that if exercise makes you anxious, go about your fitness program in baby steps (that's also recommended for asthmatics in several sources I've seen). But I find it hard to believe that I am the only person who experiences this, and I would love to talk to others about it.

I am groping with working through it, partly through my paper journal. At the moment, I am just trying to see it as clearly as possible. I have come to recognize the panic as a kind of hallucination. It will be interesting to see if that realization results in any changes when I'm able to exercise again (I'm currently recovering from a bout of bronchitis and sinusitis).

Well, maybe it IS just me, but if not, I'd like to hear about it.

12-17-2006, 10:21 AM
i thought i was the only one...
i'm in training at the moment with the british army and others my age are mostly guys. so when they make us do physical training, i'm always at the back of the platoon. it's a horrible feeling when you cant run anymore but you're being shouted at to stop walking or go faster. so i think this has led me to being quite scared of exercise, although i reeeeeally need to get fit! i've resorted to missing the physical training sessions, but attending all other training. i try to joke about it with my recruits but it's really not funny!
i do try to go for jogs sometimes but getting the motivation to do it is virtually impossible, as i'm scared of endurance activities.
however cathryn, im not sure if it's different to your problem as i do not have asthma


12-17-2006, 10:28 AM
Yes. Several years ago my doctor told me (because I had a thready pulse and high blood pressure) I had to start doing something. But he cautioned me to walk only about 20 minutes because he didn't want me having a heart attack on the side of the road.
If that isn't enough to set you back a step!

12-19-2006, 09:46 PM
it's a horrible feeling when you cant run anymore but you're being shouted at to stop walking or go faster. so i think this has led me to being quite scared of exercise, although i reeeeeally need to get fit!


I think it may not be 100 per cent similar, but we do have a lot in common. Fear of shame and humiliation is certainly a component of my problem. And I further think that I may have had similar experiences to yours in physical education classes, always torture for me; I wasn't diagnosed until I was about 40 years old, so I didn't have any adaptive classes (except one semester in high school when I got severely anemic because of a problem unrelated to asthma). So I had a lot of pressure to run and such when I really couldn't do any more.

I'm trying to let go of the humiliation because I do understand that it wasn't my fault and not even particularly anyone else's. I had an undiagnosed medical condition, and phys ed in those days emphasized competition rather than working to your own level and staying fit.

I wish I had a good suggestion for you. It's so hard to push through this kind of resistance. It's like I'm in this state where moving feels so wrong. And now, I can talk back to that state.

And maybe we can keep talking to each other about it, and the solution just may show up if we keep at it.

12-19-2006, 09:55 PM
But he cautioned me to walk only about 20 minutes because he didn't want me having a heart attack on the side of the road.
If that isn't enough to set you back a step!

(sarcasm) Boy, that attitude will really get you going (/sarcasm). Still, maybe I shouldn't be sarcastic because starting slow is best.

The worse I feel about where I'm at physically, the harder it is to exercise -- which only compounds the problem, of course.

Every time I exercise, it's a struggle.

12-20-2006, 10:42 AM
i think the trick is to start off really slowly, and build up the exercise really gradually. there's no point in trying to run or jog if you're just going to exhaust yourself in two minutes. so maybe walking every day or every other day for half an hour will get your heart rate up, but not enough to put you under strain or make your struggle.

for me, going for walks doesnt really help. i think that because of my age, i need to be a bit more strenuous to get my heart rate up. so i went for a jog the other day, and just took it slow and gave myself rests. resting is really imporant too, if you get really exhausted the just stop for a while, and try again.

you could also set yourself goals, but make sure they're realistic. for example, if walking outside then say i'll walk briskly til the end of the road and then stop and rest, or carry on slowly.

and once you've been a few times, it'll give you confidence, the fact that you CAN exercise, and that'll motivate you to go for your next one!

just a few suggestions which im trying out, hope they help cathryn!

Lulu xx

12-27-2010, 08:34 PM
Yes. I NEED to excercise, but I just can't.

12-27-2010, 08:48 PM
say why not equus... why can't you? the anxiety?

12-27-2010, 10:25 PM
Cathryn, my mom could've written your original post. She wasn't diagnosed with asthma until she was an adult, and then felt panic-striken when it came to contemplating exercise due to fear of bringing on a really bad attack. The thing is, she's now doing slow, steady-state aerobic exercise for up to two hours a day and has actually REDUCED her asthma symptoms! She mostly just walks and does really light yoga.

The thing is, she could have probably done a little bit more intense stuff if she'd been able to release the anxiety's hold on her when she was your age, but now at 60, it's unlikely she'll ever be able to get to a better fitness level. She's lost a considerable amount of weight but will probably always be heavy. For her, this is still progress and she's happy and better off than she was before she started exercising, so it's never totally too late, but if you'd like to make some real fitness gains while you're young, I still recommend trying to fight through some of the fear.

I don't like aerobic exercise naturally. I don't know that I was afraid of it, but it made me physically uncomfortable so I resisted doing it. Well, slow and steady and all that, and I am finally now at a very high level of cardio fitness. It took a LONG TIME, and it was NOT fun, but I did it. It does get easier as you go, and I started out very, very slow.

Walking sounds like it won't do anything, but it's really great for you, honestly. It's also a way to get started. It doesn't mean you can't progress and go further with more difficult exercise, it's just a place to begin.

Finally, one last idea: I fell in love with weight training years ago. So many women fail to try this because it seems scary or like it'll bulk you up. It does the exact opposite in most women, and it's about as easy as walking to get started with. Weight training is done slowly and can help raise your metabolism even at rest so that for some people, separate cardio workouts aren't even that necessary. You can start out with teeny tiny weights or none at all. There are books and videos focused just on weight work, and if you're worried about complex choreography of high-impact cardio, weights are the total opposite of that. You also don't have to worry about the intimidating flexibility required for yoga and pilates. You simply learn the correct form of how to lift a weight and you just lift away! :)

12-28-2010, 09:02 PM
Wow, it is comforting to know I'm not the only one!
i have heard baby steps as well.

12-28-2010, 10:12 PM
I see that this is an old thread that has been resurrected! I'll share how I felt when I first decided I needed exercise.

I have asthma, arthritis in my knees (2 knee surgeries for torn cartilage within the last 7 years or so), have arthritis in my neck and back (surgery on both of those within the last 20 years) and was very wary of injuring myself or causing asthma problems. I knew high impact exercise would not be good for my joints so I found something that was low impact but would still be a good workout. I started using Walk Away The Pounds DVDs and could barely do the one mile walks. But I kept on and finally worked my way up to 3+ miles at a time. That and changing my eating habits helped me to drop 40 pounds this past year and......1) My asthma has improved. 2) My knees feel really good. 3) I have not done any damage to my back or joints by knowing my limits and not doing things I know I shouldn't do. 4) Overall, I feel the best I have felt in years....maybe the best in my entire life!

Take that first step and it will be worth it. I promise!