It might be useful to first understand how someone feels and what happens to their body during an anxiety attack. Your heart rate quickens, you sweat, and you experience shortness of breath. Exercising often brings on similar sensations. Someone with anxiety could associate those physical symptoms with an anxiety attack and start to feel anxious.
Stories of injuries or even past experiences of injury brought on by or during exercise can also contribute to someone feeling anxious during a workout, according to Psychology Today.
Also, gyms or fitness centers that involve group activity could be anxiety-inducing for someone who already feels socially anxious. Add to that the worry of not knowing how to use the equipment if you’re a first-timer and having to interact with trainers or other fitness enthusiasts, and there’s an environment that’s not the most conducive for someone who has a fear of being watched and judged by others. “Social anxiety is more than shyness. It’s a fear that doesn’t go away and affects daily activities, self-confidence, relationships, and work or school life. And, of course, exercising in gyms,” shared a licensed psychologist based in Istanbul, Turkey, Onur Bal, with Healthline.
Author of “The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points,” Alice Boyes shared in Psychology Today that sometimes, anxiousness brought on by exercise could simply be about obsessive thoughts that tend to spiral. You could worry about germs from sharing equipment and machines at the gym or ruminate over something negative someone told you about your workout routine and things can get out of control. The important thing, according to Boyes, is to become aware of it and know the difference between your “anxiety-brain” and what’s actually happening.