Physical Exercise Makes Me Scared

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Claire

MyPTSD Pro
I've started going to the gym again. Physical exercise is really, really important to me and keeping myself well. I've recently started getting scared there though. I had this problem ages ago when I first developed PTSD, it went away but now its back. When I exercise my body produces adrenaline but my head translates that as being scared. My legs go to jelly, my hearts beating hard, I need to run away but there is no real danger. Just my body thinks there is.

Does anyone else get this? Any ideas how to fix it? At the moment all I can do is hope it goes away but it seems to stay once its been triggered and I end up having to leave.
 

spiritofnow

MyPTSD Pro
Hi Claire,
Oh my god!!!! You have described me!

I totally get what you are saying - I love sport, exercise especially as it does raise serotonin.

I get this all through my work out and I train 3-4times a week for about 1hr and 20 mins. I listen to my ipod which can be a distraction and can help calm you if you have the right music on it. I tend to feel this feeling more so when I am training on the running machine as I get more out of breath on here! I feel worried that I will pass out or freak out because of anxiety attack and then worry what everyone would think.

The way I have dealt with it is to try self taught 'here and now' technique - initially I slow down on the treadmill then I look at my feet and feel them as they pace on the tread mill remembering where I am and what I am doing (this helps bring me back to where I am, the here and now)- I also stare out of the window and think of things that make me feel safe and happy and after a while you loose that high anxiety feeling.

I do have this every time I go to the gym sometimes to a less degree other times more so - but what I don't do is give into it! I am so determined to grab a hold of these symptoms and give them as little energy as possible - easier said than done I know. You could try a technique I learnt at CBT - weighing up the evidence that excercise will bring on an anxiey attack, a bit like being a lawyer in your head with all the evidence before you and weighing up the actual evidence that this is what will happen. I guess we have to learn to allow our bodies to feel this physical state without acting on our 'fight or flight response ! You could also try positive visualisation - try relaxing at home and visualise yourself in the gym feeling happy and safe - visualise how you will look i.e, smiling and in turn how that will make you feel. You could even visualsie the benefits you will experience and how they will positivley affect your mind and body after the gym session has ended. Also perhaps start with small chunks/goals set a time, perhaps 5mins on one piece of equipment and then see how you feel then extend it etc etc.

Please let me know how you get on?
Goodluck!
 

dljwhitewolf

Confident
Well I don't like doing exercising any where near strangers, I would suggest you get tapes or dvds of yoga pilates karate etc, and try to train in the safety of your own home.
 
D

Deleted member 93

Yes, I get panic attacks during exercise. My heart rate increases when I run and my breathing is obviously heavy too. I am better about it now but it does not mean it will not happen still time to time. Exercising produces many of the same sensations of a panic attack so of course it trips a few because my mind is "tricked". All I can suggest is like I did. Talk to yourself during it. Remind yourself this is actually good for you and good feelings not bad during it (my self talk is different in exercise). I do a cool down by walking and then do it again like proving it to myself I am fine. Not giving up is the key. I think giving up and going home is very counter productive as you are "fleeing" and that seems to just confirm in your mind you needed to stop.

For me most panic attacks can be handled when I give up and "die" let it kill me and then they stop cycling as I let go the fear of it killing me. Exercise I have to show myself it really is not going to hurt me feeling that way by doing it again after cool down and then they start to wane the more often I do it. Good luck and hope this helps.
 

batgirl

MyPTSD Pro
I really relate Claire, this is something I struggled with for a very long time. Exactly as you said, the adrenaline felt like fear to me, I panicked, and I had to stop exercising. My doctor recommended exposure therapy for it and that was what worked for me. I would exercise until I started feeling afraid, then quit, then start exercising and try it for a bit longer... and so on until the fear wasn't there anymore. When I really started working on it, it took me about 3 weeks to not feel afraid anymore. Good luck, I hope that helps some.
 

anthony

Founder
dljwhitewolf said:
Well I don't like doing exercising any where near strangers, I would suggest you get tapes or dvds of yoga pilates karate etc, and try to train in the safety of your own home.
I would not recommend this.... this only helps you make excuses to be reclusive. You need to make yourself get out and into society, so you learn how to once again cope around people, not justify yourself to stay at home and separate yourself further from the world.
 

She Cat

Policy Enforcement
Claire,

I give you credit for going to the gym. I workout (when I have motivation) at home due to financial problems. You might try just trying to figure out if it's the exercise or just going to the gym that triggering this. Veiled & Batgirl gave you great advice. Just try a little at a time, and try to keep up with it.

Now do you think you could send me some motivation so I can get up off my dead butt and workout again???????
 

Claire

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks everyone. Good to hear your views. It is both being in the gym and exercise. Its better when I exercise outside but at the moment I'm trying to get back into things having recently been injured. Otherwise I could be running outside.


As for She Cat....get off your arse and get down the gym! NOW!:poke:
 

Lisa

MyPTSD Pro
Well, it has been quite a while since I exercised so I don't know how it makes me feel! When I used to exercise, it could be obsessive and driven in terms of weight! But I can see what you mean in the interpretation of the adrenalin being one of fear.

If it is something that has come back, Claire, then it suggests that you're anxiety and fear levels are higher and these are what you need to deal with. Do you think?

If so, practically, have you thought of meditating, or doing some form of relaxation exercise before exercise to bring your baseline down before you start? Your adrenalin may already be high before you get into the gym or wherever you're exercising... perhaps you would benefit from doing some random biofeedback (checking your pulse rate at times of the day is a good start) to see if you're generally much more stressed? Then relaxation, to see if you can teach your body to integrate with your mind along with the biofeedback?

I'd suggest not limiting relaxation outside of the place you exercise, as its possible that by recognising exercise is having this impact you could then develop more fear of the situation... you need to face the whole situation, so relaxing before you exercise at the place you exercise would help you I would guess....

Maybe try exercising lightly, so the burst of adrenalin is not so alarming, and while your exercising try some CBT type stuff, like aknowledging how it's making you feel, but then rationalising that your feeling is an interpretation of danger when really you are safe, and just exercising?
 

dljwhitewolf

Confident
well, anthony, I did belong to a gym, I had a headset on at all times, and if someone invasive tried to talk to me, i would say, sorry can't hear ya, even when it wasn't playing anything.
I guess my style of exercise is different. I only do ballet by myself and show no one, it is my gift to me.
 

Claire

MyPTSD Pro
Hi Lisa, yes I'm having more trouble than usual because of the builders banging about all day. Thay have their lorry engines running as they deliver and thats a major trigger for me. I've been trying to escape to the gym but as I'm already edgy this is proving to be an overload. Thanks for your suggestions. I will keep trying. I'm not giving up on this one. I got better before so I will again.
 

Don

Learning
control what you can control

..... I'm having more trouble than usual because of the builders banging about all day. Thay have their lorry engines running as they deliver and thats a major trigger for me. I've been trying to escape to the gym but as I'm already edgy this is proving to be an overload....

I found you have better control of your environment if you invest in industrial safety hearing protection (I use headphone style ear muffs, ~30 DB noise suppression). When used in combination with walkman earbuds and with your favourite music or just the TV, well, even really bothersome outside noises are tolerable enough. [My concrete apt. building was doing a lot of jackhammering for months, it was either that approach or just be anywhere else -- back then I merely had anxiety issues, but such intrusive noises were still too much to tolerate.]

While you certainly don't want to hide from gyms and outside noises and such, still I figure you need to have some control over just when and how much of an annoyance like noise you have to put up with.

(Lisa) > Maybe try exercising lightly, so the burst of adrenalin is not so alarming, and while your exercising try some CBT type stuff, like aknowledging how it's making you feel, but then rationalising that your feeling is an interpretation of danger when really you are safe, and just exercising?

Great approach! You get a very similar benefit during treadmill workouts by merely extending the duration at a lower intensity, compared to a shorter but more vigourous workout at very high intensity. Are you tracking your "aerobic zone" (target heart rate)? Just scale that down a notch or two and up the duration.

And, perhaps a big bonus: the longer workout session works in another way as it helps acclimate you (get you used to) the social setting of a bunch of people working out by letting you hang around longer, and all that that may eventually lead to. Better yet, if you're not really 'pushing it', you're less 'isolated' from the others, and have some extra attention and concentration available to focus on your surroundings when you care to.

Don

ps. (further to Lisa's suggestion) I've not reached the point of confronting my issues while dampening my reaction with CBT, but it sounds like something worth trying, figuring that practicing at building a tolerance for a trigger in a controlled setting can sometimes be a workable way of learning to better handle it.
 
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