There are endless benefits to be had from exercising regularly, including but not limited to better sleep, fewer depressive symptoms, more energy, and a better mood overall. Although working out is great on so many levels, that doesn't necessarily mean that your body is ready for any kind of workout at any given time.
As someone who has been living with an anxiety disorder for several years, I realised that there are some workouts I'm better off steering clear of when I'm feeling particularly stressed out or frazzled. Some sweat sessions actually create more stress in my body, leave me feeling more exhausted than before and prevent me from fully relaxing for the rest of the day. If this sounds familiar to you, you may find this list useful. These are the four workouts I avoid when my anxiety is waging war on me.
Crowded Group Fitness Classes
Don't get me wrong: there is certainly a time and place for something like Barry's Bootcamp or CrossFit. In fact, I love to go to Barry's a couple times a month to the location near my office. But when I'm feeling especially anxious and worried about whether things in my life are going to work out, I just can't handle all the loud music that makes my heart feel like it's going to beat out of my chest. I also don't like having people right next to me, flinging their sweat all over my equipment and breathing heavily into my ear. It makes me feel claustrophobic.
If you are struggling with anxiety these days, opt for a more chill kind of workout, like a weightlifting session at your gym outside of peak hours. This kind of exercise always make me feel more grounded and less stressed in general.
Intense Cycling Classes
When I'm feeling energetic or in need of inspiration, I love doing the cycling classes (Cycle Beats or The Pursuit) at my Equinox gym. I also love a good Flywheel session. But, like many group fitness classes, I find that the blaring music, overenthusiastic instructor, and close proximity to numerous strangers only exacerbates my stress. I want to get a good workout in when I'm feeling wired, but, to be honest, I want to sweat without people bothering me.
If this sounds familiar, you may want to avoid those intense cycling sessions when you're feeling super stressed. I like to instead go to a contemporary or hip-hop dance class, where I have enough room to move my body in a stress-relieving way, and the teacher is a little more low-key.
A High-Intensity Interval Run
Running is a great way to blow off steam, but if you need to find a way to ultimately wind down, you might want to stay away from the high-intensity intervals. They will certainly give you a killer cardiovascular workout, but all that heavy breathing and the escalated heart rate may remind you of a panic attack — and that's the last thing you need when you're stressed AF.
Opt in instead for a brisk walk around the block or a low-intensity sustained state (LISS) cardio session. You will get just as much of a workout in, but you won't necessarily get your heart rate up to its very max.
I'm a hot yoga teacher, so it's not like I'm bashing hot yoga by any means. But I will say this: when I'm battling anxiety, I don't want to be in a 100-degree room where I'm pouring sweat from crevices of my body I didn't even know had sweat glands. It's stressful! And it leaves me feeling totally wiped out. I much prefer a Yin yoga session or a Vinyasa yoga class in a warm or non-heated room. These practices will help you gain flexibility and allow you to tune into your body, without all the extra noise and fuss.