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I'm Afraid of Exercise

I'm not just saying that as a way of saying I don't like to exercise.  I'm really afraid of it.  I'm mostly afraid that working out, even a little, will cause me to have a heart attack.  Irrational?  Perhaps, but I've felt this way since I was in the Army, and as the years have gone by, the fear has increased.
pooge pooge 41-45, F 10 Responses Sep 18, 2007

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I thought I was irrational and crazy, but am so relieved to know I am not the only who has felt this way. Now what? I need to overcome this anxiety.

I thought I was also the only one! I have anxiety issues and I have lived a sedentary life for the most part (Im 35 now) but everytime I want to improve my health, I feel like I am going to die...sweating (duh), getting out of breath (duh again) and that leads to hyperventalating, chest pain, tingling, dizziness...all signs of a heart attack even though I know it is all in my head from anxiety. It is a truly vicious cycle!

I've been a good athlete all my life, suddenly in my mid 40's I started having panic attacks and started fearing working out. I know (not good friends) of three people who have died exercising and they were all in good shape (one was in great shape) They were all in late 40's to early 50's. I've had my heart checked a bunch of times and everything is fine. But you always read about stories of people that have a good check up then die soon after. I still force myself to exercise now but take aspirin immediately after and sit in fear for about an hour afterwards. Then any little chest pain (none during exercise) I think I'm having an heart attack. I am on anti depressants/ anti anxiety drugs for several years now and they help with panic attacks but I just can't get that fear out of my head. If only I could return to the care free days of doing anything physical and not worry about it. Have you ever heard of the saying ignorance is bliss? It's true I think I really started worrying after I started researching everything on the internet. Well that's it for me, Thanks for listening.

I am going through this, too. I feel better when and after I exercise, but then if I get a twinge in my chest I freak out and stop. I'm overweight and in my 40s and this is the age the at pops up in all those stories: "Did you hear he/she died of a heart attack? He/She was only in his/her forties!" Oh, lordie! And yesterday I went for a way-too-long on way-too-little-nourishment bike ride with my son. On the way back there was more uphill work and I started to feel woozie. I pulled over and sat down. My son was so great fetching me water and patting my back. I was nauseous and clammy (heart attack symptoms!) My hands got tingly -- I wasn't thinking heart attack, more like low potassium and dehydration -- but it was still scary! I kept thinking "what if this is just what happens right before a heart attack?" My husband came with the car and by then I felt much better. So now I have to "get back up on the horse" ASAP I think. Just make sure I eat better before working out that hard (I didn't think of it as a workout because I don't go very fast on my bike, but that uphill stretch -- even though it was very gradual -- was just too much). It sucks because I do have this fear, and this incident didn't help!

Oh wow I can't believe I found someone else who feels the same way I do! I am so sick of people telling me I am crazy. I understand I have anxiety issues but I still think I am going to have a heart attack if I exercise.

I'm very proud of you!!! :o)

Interesting thing is, I never told anybody before about my fear of exercise. After saying it on here, it no longer seemed so hard to admit it, so I told my best friend. She's a professional athlete, as well as holding a degree in psychology. She's been very supportive and encouraging, and I have been going out for "brisk walks" the past few mornings, and I plan to keep it up, and gradually increase the duration of the walks. It's been going pretty well so far, although i did find myself hyperventilating on my first walk, which then made me panic, which of course made the problem worse... vicious cycle. But since then I've been paying attention to my breathing rhythm, and it makes a world of difference!

You should try to start with some light exercises. Like swimming or something like that. Because if you never work out, you are increasing the possibilities of a heart attack.

The reason I think that is because I FEEL like I'm gonna have a heart attack while I'm working out. Doctor's have assured me it's panic/anxiety attacks that I'm experiencing, but I'm still not convinced.

Do you have some specific reason to think that?