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Overcoming Your Fear of Exercise - Part II

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Updated October 08, 2010

3. Fear of Pain.

I've always hated pain and gone out of my way to avoid it as much as possible. That's probably true of most people, which is why some avoid exercise, fearing that there's nothing but pain in store for them.

Attitude Adjustment. Repeat after me: Exercise Doesn't Have to Hurt. Now, when I say hurt, I'm talking about PAIN, I'm not talking about the changes your body goes through when it starts to move faster than usual (e.g., increased breathing, sweating and heart rate). Exercise should not be painful and, if it is, you should either slow down or stop. If you can't breathe during your cardio workout, you're working too hard (unless you're deliberately doing interval training). If you're experiencing shin splints, side stitches or other common side effects of beginning an exercise program (see injuries and symptoms to help determine what's going on), you may need to stop, take care of the problem and start again tomorrow. It's normal to feel some tweaks as your body adapts to exercise. When lifting weights, it's normal to feel a little burning in your muscles. As you get stronger, you'll get used to your body's response and be able to challenge yourself with heavier weights. If you feel any sharp pains in the joints, tearing in the muscles or ligaments or anything else that doesn't feel normal, that's when you stop and see a doctor if it doesn't seem to be healing.

4. Fear of Sweating.

I can't tell you how many times a client has asked me how much sweat is 'normal.' I've also had clients apologize for sweating, make excuses for sweating ("Man, is it hot in here or what?") and surreptitiously try to remove sweat without me noticing. I sweat a lot and have never really worried much about it, but I know some people get nervous about how much they sweat and some people actually avoid exercise because of it.

Attitude Adjustment. There really is no 'normal' when it comes to sweating. Sweating is simply your body's way of cooling you off and some of us sweat more than others. If you're worried about sweating and/or body odor, there are some basic steps you can take like wearing sweat-wicking clothes (so the sweat leaves your body more freely) and avoiding foods (garlic, onions and alcohol, for example) that may cause stronger odors. Just remember…when you exercise, you're probably going to sweat. We all are and it's not always going to smell pretty (take it from someone who works with sweaty people on a regular basis). To become more comfortable with sweating, take this Sweat IQ Quiz and learn more about why we sweat.

5. Fear of Failure.

I'm sure I don't really have to explain this one, right? Most of us are afraid to fail and, when it comes to exercise, that failure can be experienced in so many ways-failure to lose weight, to make it through a workout, to stick to an exercise program, to do the right thing, etc.

Attitude Adjustment. The simplest way to deal with this fear is to set a goal you know you can reach. It's nice to have long-term goals to work for but, for right now, you need to do what you can handle. If you set the bar too high, you also set yourself up for failure and that could become an excuse to quit altogether.

Anytime you do something out of your comfort zone, you're taking a risk. But, just the act of taking a risk can be all the success you need to keep you going. Learn more about The Right Way to Fail at Exercise and then determine if you're an exercise perfectionist. If you are, that's something to be aware of and work on.

Want to know more about your fears? Take the quiz, Are You Afraid of Exercise? and get a handle on your fitness fears.

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