Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

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Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by ray245 » 2017-07-02 06:49pm

This has been a long running problem for me ever since I was young. Many exercises, especially running has always been a little challenging for me. Regardless of my fitness, the act of exercise alone had caused me to feel extremely stressed out and anxious. Running often puts me in a rather depressive mood.

From what I am aware, exercise usually helps to reduce stress and anxiety as opposed to causing it. It releases endomorphin which should help out the mind. Yet I don't think I have ever felt a change in mood for the better by exercising. My nutritionist seems at a loss in helping me out with this long running problem.

I am wondering if there is any scientific basis for the idea that exercise can actually cause stress and anxiety?
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Jub » 2017-07-02 07:09pm

Honestly, it feels like this is partly self-induced. You worry about living well (as evidenced by the nutritionist and the fact that you're asking this question) yet even though you're doing the right stuff you're stressed.

The first thing I have to ask is what if any specific thing your exercise related anxiety focuses on? This might offer a clue towards what the issue is.

Also, you could try getting a personal trainer and talking to them, perhaps they can find you a routine that you enjoy.

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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by ray245 » 2017-07-03 01:29am

Jub wrote:Honestly, it feels like this is partly self-induced. You worry about living well (as evidenced by the nutritionist and the fact that you're asking this question) yet even though you're doing the right stuff you're stressed.

The first thing I have to ask is what if any specific thing your exercise related anxiety focuses on? This might offer a clue towards what the issue is.

Also, you could try getting a personal trainer and talking to them, perhaps they can find you a routine that you enjoy.
Certain exercise like running tends to drive me into extreme stress because it feels as if I am being locked into completing the run with no escape. The same goes for many other sports like Tennis and etc. Exercise generally makes me feel as if I had lost control of my sense of self.

I kept hearing trainers and my old commanders ( during military service) talk constantly about how exercise can make you feel good with the release of endomorphin, but I've never felt anything close to what they are describing.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Lord Revan » 2017-07-03 01:36am

ray245 wrote:
Jub wrote:Honestly, it feels like this is partly self-induced. You worry about living well (as evidenced by the nutritionist and the fact that you're asking this question) yet even though you're doing the right stuff you're stressed.

The first thing I have to ask is what if any specific thing your exercise related anxiety focuses on? This might offer a clue towards what the issue is.

Also, you could try getting a personal trainer and talking to them, perhaps they can find you a routine that you enjoy.
Certain exercise like running tends to drive me into extreme stress because it feels as if I am being locked into completing the run with no escape. The same goes for many other sports like Tennis and etc. Exercise generally makes me feel as if I had lost control of my sense of self.

I kept hearing trainers and my old commanders ( during military service) talk constantly about how exercise can make you feel good with the release of endomorphin, but I've never felt anything close to what they are describing.
I'm no phychologist or therapist but it seems to me that you're getting stressed over "failing" the exercise and it's not so much the exercise as this fear of failling that's causing you stress. I suggest talking to a therapist and/or a personal trainer and being up front about your fears. There's no shame in stopping if you can't do something, you're not locked to completing an exercise, but you need to figure out how to tell yourself that.

EDIT:I've said several times to my personal trainer "I just can't do this and I need to stop" and instead of being on my second trainer (the first one left the company), has always been the case if I said "I need to stop" I was listened to and the exercise was stopped, no questions asked.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Cykeisme » 2017-07-03 01:48am

I guess I have some anxiety when I can't increase my one-repetition maximum personal record on a lift for months at a time, despite trying various training methods to break the progression plateau.

In general, though, keeping in shape definitely makes me feel better.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2017-07-03 10:01am

You say this has been a "long-running" problem for you, but how sustained is it? That is, how frequently do you actually try to exercise?

Stress/anxiety over exercise is fairly common among people when they first start working out, because, well, it's SUPER uncomfortable suddenly putting extreme stress on parts of your body that you don't often use at all in modern sedentary lifestyles. Typically, this will go away as you acclimate to a REGULAR exercise schedule (emphasis on the regularity ... e.g. two or three days a week, the same days every week, at the same time, for the same length of time, etc.) and you get used to it (both physically and mentally). There's also the issue of finding the specific exercise that best works for you (some people enjoy running, other people don't; some people enjoy weightlifting, other people don't; etc.).

It sounds to me like you try exercising for a week but then stop because you don't like it and it's making you anxious, and then wait a couple of months before trying again, or something like that. (This is fairly common behavior). If that's the case, you should try enforcing a more rigid and regular schedule, and force yourself to stick to it for several consecutive weeks. I would almost guarantee that will help. And it's not just about the exercise schedule in and of itself, it is about trying to maintain a consistent sleep and diet schedule to supplement this. If you are constantly tired from not sleeping enough and eating shitty food, exercise alone isn't really going to do anything to help you, and the former are higher correlates with anxiety and stress than exercise ever is.

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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by ray245 » 2017-07-03 11:14am

Ziggy Stardust wrote:You say this has been a "long-running" problem for you, but how sustained is it? That is, how frequently do you actually try to exercise?

Stress/anxiety over exercise is fairly common among people when they first start working out, because, well, it's SUPER uncomfortable suddenly putting extreme stress on parts of your body that you don't often use at all in modern sedentary lifestyles. Typically, this will go away as you acclimate to a REGULAR exercise schedule (emphasis on the regularity ... e.g. two or three days a week, the same days every week, at the same time, for the same length of time, etc.) and you get used to it (both physically and mentally). There's also the issue of finding the specific exercise that best works for you (some people enjoy running, other people don't; some people enjoy weightlifting, other people don't; etc.).

It sounds to me like you try exercising for a week but then stop because you don't like it and it's making you anxious, and then wait a couple of months before trying again, or something like that. (This is fairly common behavior). If that's the case, you should try enforcing a more rigid and regular schedule, and force yourself to stick to it for several consecutive weeks. I would almost guarantee that will help. And it's not just about the exercise schedule in and of itself, it is about trying to maintain a consistent sleep and diet schedule to supplement this. If you are constantly tired from not sleeping enough and eating shitty food, exercise alone isn't really going to do anything to help you, and the former are higher correlates with anxiety and stress than exercise ever is.
Depends on when you are talking about. Even when I was exercising on a very regular basis back in high school and etc, I've always experienced a fair amount of stress during exercise. It was regular because I was exercising/playing sports with friends on a regular basis, but even then it can be stressful.

Similarly, regular exercise during my boot camp days did not help my mental state either, even after it was being conditioned to regular workouts. The more rigid workouts/exercise are, the more problematic it is for me.

I had this talk with a phychologist and a nutritionist before, but it doesn't seem like they are able to tackle my mental "block" towards enjoying exercise. Exercise always gave me negative feelings ever since I was a kid, especially if it is a regular routine.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Jub » 2017-07-03 12:29pm

ray245 wrote:
Jub wrote:Honestly, it feels like this is partly self-induced. You worry about living well (as evidenced by the nutritionist and the fact that you're asking this question) yet even though you're doing the right stuff you're stressed.

The first thing I have to ask is what if any specific thing your exercise related anxiety focuses on? This might offer a clue towards what the issue is.

Also, you could try getting a personal trainer and talking to them, perhaps they can find you a routine that you enjoy.
Certain exercise like running tends to drive me into extreme stress because it feels as if I am being locked into completing the run with no escape. The same goes for many other sports like Tennis and etc. Exercise generally makes me feel as if I had lost control of my sense of self.

I kept hearing trainers and my old commanders ( during military service) talk constantly about how exercise can make you feel good with the release of endomorphin, but I've never felt anything close to what they are describing.
So stop running a fixed course and start running on a treadmill, or change what you're doing entirely. Hit the weights or do a gym circuit when running starts to make you anxious. Ensure that you have the freedom to change exercises and that should allow you to actually exercise without so much stress.

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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by ray245 » 2017-07-03 02:09pm

Jub wrote: So stop running a fixed course and start running on a treadmill, or change what you're doing entirely. Hit the weights or do a gym circuit when running starts to make you anxious. Ensure that you have the freedom to change exercises and that should allow you to actually exercise without so much stress.
I've gymed before, and gyming doesn't really improve things either. Especially lifting or running on the treadmill. These tends to send me into an overthinking mood.

Even sports like Tennis or Badminton is often making me stressed out instead of acting as stress relief.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by madd0ct0r » 2017-07-03 03:01pm

How much caffine do you intake?
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by ray245 » 2017-07-03 07:01pm

madd0ct0r wrote:How much caffine do you intake?
Not a lot. Perhaps once a week?
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-07-03 07:50pm

Are you adequately well fed and hydrated before/after working out? Working out and then not-eating while going "I'M FAT FAT FAT BOOHOO" will mess ya up. Are you adequately sleeping?
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by ray245 » 2017-07-03 08:23pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:Are you adequately well fed and hydrated before/after working out? Working out and then not-eating while going "I'M FAT FAT FAT BOOHOO" will mess ya up. Are you adequately sleeping?
Yeah, I don't starve or dehydrate myself on purpose. I would point out that it is during the exercise itself that I start to experience stress/anxiety.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Jub » 2017-07-03 09:17pm

ray245 wrote:
Shroom Man 777 wrote:Are you adequately well fed and hydrated before/after working out? Working out and then not-eating while going "I'M FAT FAT FAT BOOHOO" will mess ya up. Are you adequately sleeping?
Yeah, I don't starve or dehydrate myself on purpose. I would point out that it is during the exercise itself that I start to experience stress/anxiety.
Honestly, it sounds like you spend too much time stressing over exercise and overthinking things so I don't think people here can really offer that much. If this is something that's causing you issues, it's likely worth going to a professional and sorting things out.

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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by aerius » 2017-07-03 09:41pm

I can't tell you how to fix your problems, but I'm pretty sure what's at the root of them.

You're not doing exercise because you WANT to, you're doing it because you feel like you HAVE to. In the latter situation, it becomes WORK, it's another thing that stresses you out and makes you hate yourself. Been there, done that, there's a reason I don't play tennis or lift weights & workout in a gym.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-07-03 10:03pm

What's the workout environment like? Are you new?
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Broomstick » 2017-07-03 11:37pm

ray245 wrote:Yeah, I don't starve or dehydrate myself on purpose. I would point out that it is during the exercise itself that I start to experience stress/anxiety.
Have you been screened for heart disease? Every have a cardiac stress test? Because heart problems can manifest as stress/anxiety when exerting yourself. It's not a terribly common symptom, but it can happen.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by ray245 » 2017-07-04 07:28am

Jub wrote: Honestly, it sounds like you spend too much time stressing over exercise and overthinking things so I don't think people here can really offer that much. If this is something that's causing you issues, it's likely worth going to a professional and sorting things out.
I've seen professionals before. I gave up on them after they don't see how to help in this regard.
aerius wrote:I can't tell you how to fix your problems, but I'm pretty sure what's at the root of them.

You're not doing exercise because you WANT to, you're doing it because you feel like you HAVE to. In the latter situation, it becomes WORK, it's another thing that stresses you out and makes you hate yourself. Been there, done that, there's a reason I don't play tennis or lift weights & workout in a gym.
Yeah, this is kinda true. I do feel a loss in the sense of "self" whenever I exercise, even when I do it on my own will.
Broomstick wrote: Have you been screened for heart disease? Every have a cardiac stress test? Because heart problems can manifest as stress/anxiety when exerting yourself. It's not a terribly common symptom, but it can happen.
As far as I am aware, after going to full medical check-up during my military service, I don't have heart problems of those sorts.

Also, is it possible to shift the topic to a more appropriate forum? This thread is starting to feel more like a personal health question than a purely scientific question.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-10-31 01:38pm

Have you adapted to the exercise environment?

Are you exercising alone? If you're unfamiliar with what to do then that might contribute. Having a friendly non-asshole trainer might help. Or exercising together with not-asshole friends, especially those who know how to exercise but who nonetheless aren't gonna be dicks about how you can't deadlift a battle tank or something.

Figure out a way to have fun in whatever form of exercise you're doing. Find some type of exercise that you actually like.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Zwinmar » 2017-11-01 06:25pm

My best advice would be to find something physical that you like: some like running (I find it boring as shit and hated it when I was in the military), or hiking, or swimming. Having friends to help with it is a good idea, at least if you like a bit of friendly competition.

That said, I'm a fat ass because of a bum knee and lack of motivation.

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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by ray245 » 2017-11-01 06:37pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:
2017-10-31 01:38pm
Have you adapted to the exercise environment?

Are you exercising alone? If you're unfamiliar with what to do then that might contribute. Having a friendly non-asshole trainer might help. Or exercising together with not-asshole friends, especially those who know how to exercise but who nonetheless aren't gonna be dicks about how you can't deadlift a battle tank or something.

Figure out a way to have fun in whatever form of exercise you're doing. Find some type of exercise that you actually like.
That's the thing. The idea of exercise and fun feels alien to me. Usually exercising feels like a test of my body-eye coordination.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Soontir C'boath » 2017-11-01 06:38pm

Here is an exercise; walk. Obviously don't go into shit neighborhoods, but I would explore places you never went to before to make it an adventure as well. Otherwise, just take a walk or an even longer walk than usual if need be. Use the time to ponder on things or clear your mind and go home when you feel like it.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by ray245 » 2017-11-01 06:56pm

Soontir C'boath wrote:
2017-11-01 06:38pm
Here is an exercise; walk. Obviously don't go into shit neighborhoods, but I would explore places you never went to before to make it an adventure as well. Otherwise, just take a walk or an even longer walk than usual if need be. Use the time to ponder on things or clear your mind and go home when you feel like it.
Pondering on things actually send me towards the more depressive stuff. Same with running.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Soontir C'boath » 2017-11-01 07:03pm

Ok, then I am going to say that exercising itself is not the problem. With that said, listen to music, a podcast, whatever to take your attention away while you're out and about.
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Re: Can exercise cause anxiety/stress?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-11-02 09:49am

ray245 wrote:
2017-11-01 06:37pm
Shroom Man 777 wrote:
2017-10-31 01:38pm
Have you adapted to the exercise environment?

Are you exercising alone? If you're unfamiliar with what to do then that might contribute. Having a friendly non-asshole trainer might help. Or exercising together with not-asshole friends, especially those who know how to exercise but who nonetheless aren't gonna be dicks about how you can't deadlift a battle tank or something.

Figure out a way to have fun in whatever form of exercise you're doing. Find some type of exercise that you actually like.
That's the thing. The idea of exercise and fun feels alien to me. Usually exercising feels like a test of my body-eye coordination.
How often do you do it? If you do it regularly that might help de-alienating the activity, making it seem more comfortable and familiar.
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