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Old 01-05-2011, 05:14 AM   #1
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Hiya, i usually lurk but i'm having an issue at the moment and i havent read anything about it. I wanted to ask if anyone had experienced something similar.

First of all this is not an excuse in any way, i just want to see if anyone else had experienced anything similar. So, you know that feeling you get, when your working out real hard, your hearts pumping so hard you can feel it through your chest and your muscles are burning, its usually a good feeling for most people. Well, im frightened of feeling like that I try and work out, i get to the point where im breathing heavy and my heart rate is increasing, and i get freaked out and stop. I get really scared and anxious about something bad happening. I think it may stem from gym glasses at school, i had bad asthma as a child, and can remember literally, not being able to breath and collapsing a few times. And ive gotten to the point a few times when working out at home, where i cant breath and go dizzy.

My asthma is under control with medication, as are the anxiety issues. I also have chronic fatigue syndrome and am very afraid of getting too exhausted. I have a toddler and a baby to look after and cant afford to get ill. Like i say, this shouldnt be an excuse not to work out and its not. I just wondered if anyone else had experienced something similar and how you get passes it?
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Old 01-05-2011, 05:32 AM   #2
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First off, this is a fairly common phobia (especially, it seems, among people who had bad asthma growing up), so you're not alone for sure. And I personally have experiences with body memories triggering panic reactions (for me, it was a near-fatal allergic reaction to penicillin...for a while, taking medication made me feel like I was having a reaction again, and I'd panic). Of course, the symptoms of a panic attack mimic the very thing you're afraid of...tightness in the chest, rapid heart rate, etc. It's hard to say whether you're panicking or having a real reaction (dizziness and not being able to breathe are, unfortunately, symptoms of both).

For me, resolving this issue meant safely and slowly pushing the boundary of what made me afraid. The first few times I had to take a medication after that, I took it literally in the hospital parking lot. The next few times, with a phone by my side to call 911 as needed. And gradually, as I had more positive experiences with taking medications, the fear decreased.

So how can you safely exercise without pushing that panic button? Does it mean starting with walking or other milder exercise, maybe with your inhaler near by? Or starting small, so you can have a positive experience with exercise that triggers neither your chronic fatigue or your asthma? The idea would be that, by taking small steps into movement (instead of pushing yourself hard into feeling those uncomfortable, triggery feelings in your chest and lungs), you'd accumulate enough good experiences that you'd be able to push a bit further.

I also found external cues to be helpful (for example, I roll my tongue into a cylinder when I am afraid I am having an allergic reaction...if my tongue rolls normally, it isn't swollen, therefore, my reaction is due to panic, not to actual allergy). You might consider getting a heart rate monitor, or even periodically taking your pulse, to remind yourself that you're working at a reasonable level, or stopping to take a moment and a few deep breaths to reassure yourself that your lungs are still able to take in air.

The key is to not push yourself too far into the discomfort before you've amassed a collection of positive experiences. Stop when you're just barely starting to feel a little discomfort, reassure yourself with relaxation exercises and deep breathing, and continue if it feels safe for you to do so, or wait for another day.

Hope that helps!
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