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Avatar universal

Exercise related anxiety

Hi.  I posted this on the heart forum but I'm thinking it belongs here.  I've been experiencing a lot of anxiety lately.  About 2 weeks ago my heart rate spiked in the middle of my normal exercise routine.  It caused me to have an anxiety attack.  It's happened several times since then.  Not every time I exercise though.  I need to say I purchased I heart monitor about a month ago.  Unknown to me it picked up interference from other machines at the health club and will display heart rates out of the range of normal - like 200.  So I started taking my heart rate manually when the strange numbers would appear on the monitor and my heart was normal for what I was doing.  About 110 or so.  Today it went up to about 130 and I began to panic.  I had no other symptoms but the increase of my heart rate.  I started to sweat and panic.  I had no pain or shortness of breath.  I'm thinking that this is being caused by my anxiety.  I'm so focused on my heart rate that I'm unconsciously causing this to happen.  I'm beginning to think I'm losing my mind.  Can anyone reassure me?  I was at the cardiologist about a year or so ago.  I had an ekg and was fine.  I had a stress echo about 12 years ago and was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse.  I have doctor phobias too so I don't want to go back to the cardiologist if I don't have to.  I currently take zoloft daily and xanax when necessary.  Please help!
11 Responses
3455166 tn?1347510733
Well I had the same problem one day when I was out walking and prior to that had experienced a panic episode and then one happened when I was out exercising, taking a jog.

I felt fine besides the nasty feelings that accompany panic, no shortness of breath, no chest pain at all and no dizzyness. I was and am a fit individual but the racing heart and occasional palpitation was alarming and set me back in my usual running routine.

First of all, if you are doing aerobic exercise, 110 BPM is mainly the warm-up range, a typical rate should be around 50% to 70% of your MHR (max heart rate). Even during weight lifting, a heart rate of 110 BPM or higher is totally normal and to be expected. I have heard of some people with MVP having a sudden increase in heart rate during exercise.

No, you are by no means losing your mind at all, but you are having such a neurotic obsession with your heart that is interfering with things that are normal and daily routines for most. Exercise is by no way going to cause you any sort of harm, it will only benefit you in the best of ways. You need to find a way to get around this neurosis regarding exercise and your heart, if you need to, speak with a psychiatrist about it. Sitting around being afriad of exercise is not good, it certainly does not provoke fitness and if you want to be healthy and conditioned, its the only way to go - to exercise.

If you are not experiencing any shortness of breath, chest pain and or dizzyness, then I can pretty much guarantee you are just fine and that nothing is wrong with you, and nothing bad is going on whilst you are engaged in your exercise.

Best of luck, and take care. ;-)
Avatar universal
Hi, yes u just concluded ur self, u only driving ur self crazy.. By worrying too much about ur heart rate, let me tell you this.. I workout too and obviously when u put in too much work into ur exercise ur heart rate will go fast.. It actually start pumping hard n fast.. Cause ur trying to catch ur breathe. Try to breath to slow ur heart rate, breath threw ur nose let it out threw ur mouth, yes is only ur anxiety triggering you.. So chill or else ur going to drive ur self crazy.. Good luckk..
Avatar universal
Hi. I guess I was concerned because my heart rate went up from 104 to 130 with no increase in the intensity of the workout. It probably would have gotten higher if I had stayed on the elliptical. I'm going to take a half of a Xanax today before I go and see if that helps. Logic would tell me to ditch the heart monitor watch I wear as it only assists me in becoming more obsessed with my heart rate. But I'm afraid it will get really high and I won't know it. I have no other symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath or dizziness. Although i do start to sweat when the panic sets in. And it doesnt happen every time i work out ( which to me would mean a more serious issue).  . I'm going to take everything you guys said to heart and try to calm down,
Avatar universal
My original experience with anxiety came from concerns about heart health.  I typically would work out 6 days a week (mostly running between 30-40 miles a week) with no issues, but when I had my first panic attack, that of course all changed.

The good thing is that you have been checked out by your doctor and you are okay.  I did the same thing and would go into a panic when my heart rate or bp would spike. Your heart rate can vary dramatically doing the same activity from day to day in my experience.  Some days you are more physically tired, you may have had a couple of cups of coffee, eaten differenctly, working out at a different time of day all can effect on how your body reacts.  


Anxiety can cause all sorts of symptoms both mental and physical.  For example my top number in the doc's office is typically 25-30 points higher than when I am at home...it has always been like that, which is okay because my doctor knows about it.  Mentally, I believe we become so hyper-sensitive and hyper-aware to what we are concerned about that we can magnify and misinterpret our physical 'symptoms' as something catastrophically wrong with us when it is just a normal feeling that we would not have paid attention to in the past.

Are you in counseling right now for your anxiety?  For me, learning about the root cause and how to confront it helped to deal with it and get back on track.  Keep us posted!
3455166 tn?1347510733
The heart rate monitor is good to use if you are wanting to know you're exact numbers when exercising, but it is not absolutely necessary. As you said yourself, you aren't getting any chest pain or dizzyness so you have nothing to be concerned over - and if you do get lightheaded it will most likely be because of two things:

-Lightheaded due to panic

-Lightheaded because of over-exertion (but not likely if you know you're limits)

Also, temperature can affect your heart rate as well.
Avatar universal
You are both right about everything.  I need to get a handle on my anxiety or I'll never be able to sort out any real symptoms from those produced by my anxiety.  I'm already fretting about tonight's workout, convinced that it's going to happen again.  And I can guarantee it will, as my mind is working overtime on this.  This same thing happened 12 years ago.  I was at the health club and my heart rate skyrocketed.  I went to the ER where they performed an EKG and told me I was fine.  The next day I was convinced it would happen again - and of course it did.  That's when I had my stress echo and they found I had MVP.  I don't know why I'm letting this freak me out again.  Anxiety *****.
3455166 tn?1347510733
Can I ask you a question? What is it about the high heart rate spike that scares you?

Avatar universal
My concern is that it is out of the norm. I'm scared something bad is wrong with me. Even though I can tie the beginning of this several weeks ago to a high anxiety producing  group of events occurring in my life. I know anxiety can produce events such as this. But I always worry that his time something horrible is wrong. I know it's crazy talk. And I don't have people in my life I can share these issues with. Or at least people I'm comfortable sharing them with. That's why I'm thankful for you guys. You know what it's like.
3455166 tn?1347510733
Okay, I see where you are coming from.

Seeing your pulse rate jump whilst the intensity of your exercise is the same is a little weird, but I doubt that in any way, it is an indicator of something wrong. Do you not breath properly in any way, maybe that could cause a spike in your heart rate? I'm not too sure exactly what could be causing it but its apparent that is nothing to be concerned over considering you have had your tests and all came back negative. One thing I can suggest is that you go see a sports physician and tell him or her about this and see what they tell you. That could be a good idea.

You always think that "this time" its going to be something bad, well that is the classic crutch of anxiety, its always "but what if its this time?" but that gets worn out pretty quick and you've proven to yourself time and time again that nothing happens. Take a scientific outlook on this: You've ran your own experiment per se by exercising over and over again, and each time you are a-okay but you keep feeling anxious about the occurence of higher than normal leap in heart rate. But you've reproduced and shown yourself many times over than its nothing bad, so therefore nothing to be concerned over.

Oh by all means, talk with us on here as much you like - I enjoy helping out.
Avatar universal
Yesterday I worked out and all is well. I say this with hesitation as I'm afraid of jinxing things. I suppose this is additional proof that it probably isn't related to my heart. Of course I'm still fearful that tonight will be the night that's different. I'm nervous about going to work out tonight. I don't like feeling like this.  As I've said previously, anxiety *****.
Avatar universal
Just keep confronting your anxiety.  Remember that anxiety does ebb and flow in my opinion.  Some days are worse than others.  For me, when I was going through this, I was slowly able to get back to my work out regimen as I went through counseling.  Both group and one on one helped me tremendously as I learned about it.  
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