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Overcoming Exercise Anxiety: 5 Strategies for a Healthier Mind and Body


Do you ever find yourself avoiding exercise because it triggers feelings of anxiety? You're

not alone. For many, the thought of raising their heart rate through physical activity can be daunting. As someone who has battled anxiety around exercising, I understand how overwhelming it can feel. I used to avoid cardio like the plague, fearing that my heart racing meant something was wrong. It took time and effort to overcome these fears, but I learned that exercise could be a powerful tool for managing anxiety when approached mindfully.


Understanding Exercise Anxiety

Anxiety around exercise can manifest in various ways. For some, it's the fear of experiencing physical symptoms like a racing heart or shortness of breath. Others may worry about being judged by others or feeling out of control. Personally, I struggled with the fear that pushing myself too hard would trigger a panic attack. These anxieties can make it challenging to prioritize physical activity, despite knowing its benefits for both physical and mental health.


Strategies to Overcome Exercise Anxiety

  1. Start Slow and Set Realistic Goals: Begin with low-intensity exercises and gradually increase the intensity as you feel more comfortable. For example, start with a leisurely walk around the neighborhood before progressing to a brisk walk or light jog.

  2. Focus on Breath Awareness: Practice deep breathing exercises to help calm your mind and regulate your heart rate during exercise. For instance, try inhaling deeply for four counts, holding for four counts, and exhaling slowly for six counts while walking or cycling.

  3. Find a Supportive Environment: Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or a community that encourages you to move at your own pace. Joining a group fitness class with an inclusive atmosphere can boost your confidence and provide a sense of camaraderie.

  4. Incorporate Mindfulness Techniques: Practice mindfulness during exercise by staying present and attentive to your body's sensations. Notice the rhythm of your breath, the feeling of your feet hitting the ground, or the breeze on your skin as you move.

  5. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to different types of exercise and adjust accordingly. If a particular activity triggers anxiety or discomfort, explore alternative forms of movement that feel more enjoyable and sustainable.


Embracing the Present Moment

Learning to be present during exercise can transform it from a source of anxiety to an opportunity for self-care and empowerment. By implementing these strategies and gradually exposing yourself to challenging situations, you can build resilience and confidence in your ability to manage exercise-related anxiety.


Remember, it's okay to take things at your own pace and celebrate each small victory along the way.


For more guidance on overcoming anxiety and cultivating a balanced nervous system, I invite you to check out my free beginner's guide to healing your nervous system. Together, we can shift out of the fight-or-flight response and embrace a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.


Sending love, Carly

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