Monkey on my back

This post was last updated on January 5th, 2022 at 08:01 pm

exercise induced anxiety attack
Monkey off my back

*Updated 12/17/16

I guess it’s time to get this monkey off my back. Am I having an exercise induced anxiety attack, or am I just out of shape? It’s a question I ask myself often. The answer is both. The thought of exercise sends me into a panic.

Yes, I’m an athlete or an out of shape former athlete who is afraid to sweat, but not for reasons of vanity. I could care less who sees the mascara running down my face or worse – boob sweat.  To be totally honest, I’m afraid I’ll hyperventilate, pass out and die. Totally ridiculous, I know! I wasn’t always like this and I’m working to break through it. Kind of like the poor dog in this video, I’ve had enough!

Exercise Induced Anxiety Attack – The Day Everything Changed

I know the exact day it started, Christmas Eve, three years ago, just days after my 40th birthday. Happy Birthday to me right! My husband, his brother and our two kids went out for a hike in the hills near Marin in Northern California. It was frigid, damp and I was getting over a cold. Stupid me, I insisted on pushing the stroller up the hill to a nearby reservoir. I had to burn off the calories from the Mexican food and margaritas we ate the night before!

After pushing the stroller uphill for about 20 minutes I started to get winded. No shocker there, I was out of shape. The problem was that I couldn’t catch my breath. Which, I guess now when I put it all together is not really a surprise. Vigorous exercise in cold, damp weather, when you are getting over an upper respiratory infection is probably not the smartest thing to do.

I started freaking out. My hands and arms were tingling, I was hyperventilating, light-headed, the whole shebang. And, to top it off we were at least 35 minutes from the nearest hospital and we had the kids with us. I seriously thought I was going to die in front of my kids. I was spiraling. It was awful! But, that folks was my first real  anxiety attack.

Anxiety Attacks Suck

I’ve had one or two big anxiety attack since then and the feeling is always the same and so is the trigger. Exercise and being far from help if I should need it. For me, the feeling of exertion, like when I reach maximum heart rate, is the same feeling I get when an anxiety attack is forming. I say forming, because I can now feel when one is coming on and I can calm myself down, but it’s taken awhile to get to this place. It’s something I’ve had to come to terms with because it has and is still affecting our family and what “mom” feels comfortable doing. It’s not how I want to live my life, or how I want our family to live, so I’m pushing through it.

Making Progress


I’ve been a member of different gyms on and off over the last three years, but thanks to my daughter starting speed school at Double Diamond Athletic Club (you can read my post on that here), I no longer have an excuse to not go to the gym. I’m already there because she has to be there. Now that I now have my “head” in the game, I’ve become part of a small group that exercises regularly lifting wights and doing cardio, and I feel great! I’m not going to lie, there are days when I look at the list of exercises and feel like I need to run and get my inhaler or “pacifier” as we refer to it in my family. I don’t have asthma, but I like to keep it handy just in case.

Read: Fitness and Staying Motivated to Workout

Benefits of Exercise

My husband is big on exercise, but he’s my husband, so I can roll my eyes at him. Unfortunately for me, he has some backing and I can’t really argue with The Mayo Clinic. The specialists there have come up with a list of seven benefits of regular physical activity. I’m sure there are many more as well.

7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

  1. Controls weight
  2. Combats health conditions and disease
  3. Improves moods
  4. Boosts energy
  5. Promotes better sleep
  6. Puts the spark back into your sex life
  7. Exercise can be fun

While I’m not a fan of sweating just to sweat, I look forward to conquering my fears and anxieties associated with exercising. I’ve been an athlete all my life and it’s time to light that fire again.

Read: Weight Watchers with Momsvilleusa

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