Can Working Out Cause Anxiety?

Can working out cause anxiety? It’s a question that many people ask, and for good reason. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, but for some people it can actually cause more anxiety.

Overview of Anxiety

Anxiety is a common mental health disorder that can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It is characterized by feelings of worry and fear, accompanied by physical changes such as increased heart rate and difficulty sleeping. While exercise is generally known to be beneficial for mental health, it is important to understand the potential risks associated with increased levels of physical activity. This heading will provide an overview of the potential connections between physical activity and anxiety.

Defining Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural emotional response to change, uncertainty or threat. It is a normal experience and is useful in motivating us to avoid dangerous situations. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point, but feelings of anxiety may become persistent and overpowering when they are excessively triggered by certain stimuli or when they reach abnormally high levels.

Often seen as a form of fear, anxiety has distinct features that set it apart from fear. While fear has more of an immediate focus on physical danger related to the present situation, anxiety often focuses on the anticipation of a future event that may not be related to immediate danger. It can cause people to worry about what can go wrong in an uncertain situation and may affect behavior by making them avoid certain activities or places that are perceived as being “dangerous”. Additionally, some types of anxiety can also produce physical symptoms like rapid heart rate, muscle tension and feelings of restlessness or edginess.

If you have experience severe symptoms like panic attacks, difficulty controlling your thoughts or feelings of extreme distress over seemingly irrational situations, it could be indicative of an anxiety disorder that should be addressed with the help of a mental health professional.

Symptoms of Anxiety

When someone experiences anxiety, they may experience a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. These can include racing thoughts, an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, feelings of being overwhelmed or out of control, and other physical sensations such as nausea. People with anxiety may also experience difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or making decisions. They may also have difficulty controlling their worries and engaging in regular activities.

Anxiety can manifest itself in various ways depending on the type of anxiety that has been diagnosed and usually features either the physical symptoms listed above or psychological symptoms such as feeling tense or having fears concerning a certain situation. Sometimes people may experience both types of symptoms simultaneously. Some people suffering from anxiety can feel irritable due to prolonged periods of stress or panic; others might experience exaggerated startle responses, fatigue, numbing sensations or frequent nightmares. It is important for individuals to seek treatment for anxiety as it can severely impact personal relationships and one’s ability to function normally in day-to-day activities.

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety is a complex mental health disorder that affects millions of people around the world. There are numerous causes of anxiety, including psychological, environmental, and physical factors. One of these possible physical causes of anxiety is an intense workout. While exercise is beneficial for our overall health, excessive intensity can lead to an increase in anxiety. Let’s learn more about why this happens and how to manage it.


The cause of anxiety is not fully understood, but researchers believe that it is caused by a combination of factors such as genetics, brain chemistry and environmental stressors. Anxiety disorders often have a genetic component, as they tend to run in families. Although anxiety is often inherited, the development of an anxiety disorder can also be influenced by environmental stressors.

Genetics refers to the passing down of traits from one generation to the next. This includes physical characteristics such as hair color and eye color, but it may also influence traits such as intelligence, personality and behavioral patterns. Researchers believe that genetics may contribute to the likelihood that someone will develop an anxiety disorder. The specific genes responsible for this increased risk are not yet known, but scientists are actively researching this area in hope of learning more about how anxiety develops and how it can be prevented or treated.

It is important to note that genetic predisposition does not necessarily mean that someone will develop an anxiety disorder; instead, it means that certain individuals may require greater care when exposed to stressful situations or high pressure environments as they are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety in response.


When we experience stress, the body’s natural response is to enter a ‘fight or flight’ mode — a survival response that releases hormones to help you cope with the immediate danger. This can manifest as an increase in heart rate, rapid breathing, and tightness in the muscles. In some cases, chronic stress can also lead to increased levels of anxiety.

The pressure and tension associated with physical exercise have been linked to increased rates of anxiety. When you’re exercising, your body releases endorphins which can produce a feeling of euphoria and relaxation — however, if the exercise is too intense or prolonged it can cause feelings of distress and anxiety.

Additional stress from working out may also be triggered by environmental factors such as extreme temperatures, crowded gyms or an unfamiliar routine. To avoid undue stress and potential causes of anxiety during exercise, look for activities that you find enjoyable and begin at levels that provide ample challenge without exhausting yourself physically or mentally. Additionally, try engaging in mindful activities like yoga which promote relaxation techniques such as deep-breathing exercises. With any activity intended to reduce symptoms of anxiety, it is important to listen closely to both your body and your mind so that you always remain in control.


Trauma is a type of emotionally distressing experience that can lead to anxiety. Trauma situations involve intense fear or helplessness and can occur in many situations, including in relationship conflicts, natural disasters, serious accidents or any other situation that produces extreme stress or fear. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common anxiety disorder related to trauma. It often results from experiencing or witnessing intense and life-threatening events, such as domestic violence, war, sexual assault, car crashes and any other event that invokes deep physical, emotional or psychological pain. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks of the event, nightmares about it and heightened levels of distress when reminded of the event. If a person has experienced trauma that resulted in an anxiety disorder or panic attack during exercise, a combination of psychotherapy and medical care should be sought out for proper treatment.


Your diet plays a huge role in managing your stress and anxiety levels. Eating a nutrient-dense diet can help you to have more energy, be more relaxed and think more clearly. Specifically, focusing on getting high-quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats can provide essential nutrients that support your nervous system as well as other bodily functions. It is important to avoid processed foods such as artificial sugars and processed grains as these can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. Eating regularly throughout the day can also help balance blood sugar levels which helps regulate moods. Additionally, consuming adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, Rhodiola rosea or lemon balm may be beneficial for managing anxiety symptoms.

Working Out

Exercise can be beneficial for managing anxiety, but studies suggest that intense exercise or overtraining can cause increased levels of anxiety. Working out with an unhealthy approach or exercising in an unstructured manner can worsen any existing mental health conditions, including anxiety.

It is important to keep in mind that working out with high intensity or without properly monitoring your physical activity level can lead to physical and psychological stress and contribute to the development of high-level anxiety symptoms. Additionally, when you exercise intensely, you may experience the unfamiliar sensation of being out of breath or having muscle tiredness that could cause panic attacks in people who are susceptible to them.

In general, moderate exercises like walking, swimming, jogging and light aerobics are recommended for individuals experiencing mild symptoms of anxiety as a form of complementary therapy. This type of moderate exercise reduces stress hormone levels and increases production of endorphins (the ‘happy’ hormones), resulting in better management of mild psychological challenges such as anxiousness and depression. These activities also help improve sleep quality which is important for maintaining mental wellbeing. However, it is still essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before beginning any new fitness activity or program if you suffer from anxiety disorder or related condition for tailored advice applicable for your individual situation.

Effects of Exercise on Anxiety

Exercise has been known to be beneficial for improving physical health but it can also be helpful for managing mental health. Research has shown that exercise can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, there are some potential risks of over-exercising that could lead to increased feelings of anxiety. In this article, we’ll explore the effects of exercise on anxiety and the potential risks of over-exercising.

Short-term Effects

Some potential short-term effects of exercise on anxiety are widely accepted by the medical and scientific community. Many studies have found that even just a single session of moderate exercise can reduce anxiety symptoms, both during and shortly following the exercise. For example, one study found that participants who engaged in a 20-minute bicycle ride reported lower levels of anxious feelings right afterward. Similarly, another study showed that people felt calmer after even just 10 minutes of aerobic activity.

However, it is important to note that although these results do suggest that exercising might help reduce some anxious feelings in the short-term, they are not necessarily indicative of long-term changes in one’s level of anxiety overall. It is also important to remember that different types of exercise may have different effects on feelings of anxiousness as well as how intense or vigorous an individual exercises may also play a role in influencing how their emotions are impacted. Therefore, it is important for individuals to experiment with different forms and levels of physical activity to find out what works best for them when managing anxiousness or other mental health issues.

Long-term Effects

Regular physical activity — whether walking, running, jogging or lifting weights — has many health benefits. Most notably, exercise can reduce physical tension and stress levels by releasing endorphins (chemical messengers in the brain) that activate positive respones such as pleasure, calming and improved sleep. Exercise also helps increase circulation and relaxes muscle tension to further promote stress reduction.

The long-term effects of exercise on anxiety are complex and depend on a person’s individual circumstances. Although data show that regular aerobic exercise can reduce symptoms of depression in the short term, it’s not yet clear automatically declare if regular workouts lead to long-term relief from anxiety.

Some research suggests that psychological therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be more effective than physical activity in managing anxiety over time. According to one study of college students engaging in cognitive behavior therapy workshops for social anxiety disorder, almost all participants displayed significant decrease in their reported levels of anxiousness after only 4 weeks.

Although it is still unknown how effective exercise is when used as a single treatment for reducing symptoms of anxiety long-term, there is increasing evidence suggesting a combination of psychological therapy and physical activity together can be an effective treatment for chronic conditions such as anxiety disorders. Thus, it’s important to consult with your doctor or therapist to decide if this form or treatment is right for you.

How to Manage Anxiety from Working Out

Working out can be a great way to reduce stress and boost your mood, but it can also lead to anxiety. Exercise-induced anxiety can make you feel uneasy, overwhelmed, and even cause physical symptoms such as heart palpitations. It is important to understand how to manage the anxiety caused by working out so that you can continue to reap the physical and mental benefits of exercise. Let’s explore how to manage anxiety from working out.

Listen to Your Body

Listening to your body is an important part of managing anxiety created by working out. During a workout, it is essential to remain aware of any physical changes in the body and pay attention to speaking up when something isn’t feeling quite right. Paying attention to what your body needs can help you recognize an approaching “overload”.

Being mindful of your breath during exercise is one tip for helping balance emotions. Counting your breath can be helpful when feeling overwhelmed and anxious from working out too much. Inhaling through the nose for 4-5 seconds and then allowing for a naturally full exhale through the mouth may make it easier to find calmness in the midst of uncomfortable emotions.

Another tip is setting realistic goals that acknowledge individual limits. Scheduling lighter days, having a specific schedule with rest days and workout days, along with monitoring how you feel after a session are all steps that can be taken to minimize any feelings of being overwhelmed by exercise. Talking with your trainer or doctor about appropriate exercises and routines tailored towards individual abilities and capabilities may also be beneficial in helping regulate these feelings
Additionally, avoiding judgmental thoughts throughout or following a workout could aid in quelling feelings of anxiety; Processing thoughts like “I should be able to do more” or “I did not push hard enough” could drive further feelings of insecurity or fear if left unchecked. Finding ways such as counting breaths mentioned earlier, speaking positive affirmations, or using calming music might help lessen agitation as well as attack anxious though processes from igniting further during or after a workout session.

Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks when working out is an important part of managing anxiety while exercising. Depending on the type and intensity of your workout, you may need to take a break in between sets or after a certain amount of time. This gives your body a chance to rest and allows you to process the physical and emotional sensations that result from exercise. A key aspect of taking breaks is recognizing when you need one and adhering to it for yourself – don’t let someone else determine what’s best for you. Taking short pauses will help take the pressure off and give your mind time to settle down. Additionally, if feeling overwhelmed, schedule longer recovery periods or lessen the intensity or duration of your workout accordingly. Monitor your heart rate, breathing rate, and sweat level for clues about how well you are managing your exercise session and whether or not it’s time to take a break.

Find Balance

If you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious after engaging in a fitness activity, it can be helpful to reflect on what part of the workout matters most to you and why. If lost motivation is the issue, try focusing on what exercising is giving you instead of what it’s taking away. Taking small steps forward and setting realistic goals are also important in maintaining balance.

When participating in vigorous exercise, make sure that you’re taking a balanced approach. This means finding the right combination of interval training and steady-state cardio activities across different types of movement (strength, HIIT, and barre). Monitoring your heart rate or perceived effort level can also help make sure that your workouts are challenging but not over-stressing your body.

It may be helpful to talk with a mental health professional if persistent feelings of fear or anxiety interfere with exercise performance. Cognitive restructuring therapy can help identify thought patterns that trigger feelings of stress or anxiety related to working out as well as teaching strategies for regulating stress levels. With these tools, individuals can safely recommit to any type of physical activity without having the negative side effects like anxiety.

Seek Professional Help

It is important to note that if the feelings of anxiety or panic during or after a workout become overwhelming, it’s essential to seek professional help. Do not try to self-analyze or self-treat. A mental health professional can help identify and address the root cause of your anxiety for more long-lasting results.

Your doctor may prescribe medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat your feeling of anxiousness. SSRIs are designed to increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that has a direct effect on mood, sleep, irritability, libido, appetite and social behavior. Other forms of treatment include psychotherapy (a type of talk therapy), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises.

Also consider researching which types of activities calm you down the most and how you can build these into your daily life—such as yoga, breathing exercises or walking in nature. It may be helpful to keep track of your thoughts and feelings before and after workouts using a journal so that you can better understand what triggers negative feelings when exercising and develop strategies for facing them without experiencing extreme levels of anxiety or worry.


In conclusion, physical exercise can be beneficial for your mental health, including reducing stress and anxiety. However, it is important to know that moderate intensity and duration are key factors in achieving this. If you overwork yourself beyond the natural limits of your body or overexert yourself mentally, it is possible that this could increase anxiety levels.

When finding an exercise routine that works best for you, it is important to find the right balance between intensity and rest times. It is also wise to consult a professional if you have any doubts about trying out a new workout or feel overwhelmed by a more strenuous program. It may also be helpful to recognize when exercise has become compulsive or obsessive in order to ensure your overall well-being is being maintained.

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