“For individuals who want to exercise but have fears or concerns, can understanding what they are scared of help ease their minds?”

How to Overcome Exercise Fears and Start a Fitness Journey

Overcoming Exercise Fears

One reason for the ongoing weight problem is that individuals don’t move around enough, and one reason individuals don’t exercise is fear (Craig M. Hales et al., 2020). For individuals, physical exertion and moving the body to the point of increased heart rate, heavy breathing, and excessive sweating can cause anxiety and be scary when they haven’t done it in a while or have never worked out. Some anxieties and fears individuals may experience include the following:

Looking Foolish

Anything can happen when exercising. When individuals can’t figure out how a machine works or aren’t sure if they’re doing an exercise correctly, falling off a machine or dropping a weight can cause a feeling of foolishness. Knowing how to use machines and weights takes practice. Ask a gym employee or personal trainer for guidance, as educating individuals on doing exercises correctly and safely is their job. And most individuals working out are happy to help as well.

Experiencing Pain

Some avoid exercise, fearing intense pain. Exercise is not supposed to be painful, but it will cause soreness because individuals use muscles that they haven’t used for a while or at all. For instance, the muscles will experience a slight burning sensation when lifting weights. The body reacts to the workout and adapts to exercise. As the body gets stronger, individuals recognize their body’s response and are able to challenge themselves with heavier weights, longer runs, walks, and workouts. When beginning an exercise program, start slow. Some trainers recommend doing slightly less than an individual thinks they can for the first weeks. This helps to build a habit without the risk of burnout.


When starting an exercise program, individuals can feel changes all over their bodies, like everything is pulling and tearing apart. Individuals who haven’t exercised much may be unable to distinguish between the normal discomfort from exercising for the first time and pain from an injury. Shin splints, side stitches, or other common side effects may develop from beginning an exercise program. Individuals may need to stop exercising, treat the injury, and start again.

  • If there are sharp pains in the joints, tearing in the muscles or ligaments, or anything else that doesn’t feel normal, stop and seek medical attention.

Exercise Mindfulness

  • The body will feel something while exercising, but separating real injury pain from normal sensations is important.
  • Be aware of how the body feels throughout the workout.
  • Follow instructions and pay attention to proper form to minimize the risk of injury.

Proper Footwear

  • Wearing the right workout shoes is a good idea to avoid and prevent injuries.
  • Invest in a quality pair of shoes to give the body the support it needs.

Proper Form

  • If lifting weights, one way to sustain an injury is using incorrect form or posture.
  • If you are unsure how to do the exercises, consult a trainer or gym employee to explain how the machine works.

Warm Up

  • Jumping into a workout without warming up can lead to injuries that can lead to chronic pain conditions.
  • A warm-up specific to the workout is recommended.
  • If walking, start with a moderate walk.
  • If running, start with a brisk walk.
  • If lifting weights, do a little cardiovascular exercise first or a warm-up set with lighter weights.

Workout Within Fitness Levels

  • Injuries happen when trying to do too much too soon.
  • Start with a light program.
  • Work up to more intense and frequent workouts.
  • For example, if only able to walk for 10 minutes, start there and increase gradually.


When it comes to exercise, failure can be experienced in different ways, like losing weight, failing to make it through a workout, being unable to stick to an exercise program, etc. This is part of the process, but individuals can overcome exercise fears through perseverance.

  • Setting the bar too high can become an excuse to quit.
  • A simple way to deal with this is to set a reachable goal.
  • Long-term goals can be set to work toward.
  • Do what you can handle now.

Individuals take risks whenever they do something out of their comfort zone. However, taking risks may be necessary to overcome exercise fears, keep going, and achieve success.

Weight Loss Techniques


Hales CM, C. M., Fryar CD, Ogden CL. (2020). Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among adults: United States, 2017–2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 360. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db360.htm#Suggested_citation

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The information herein on "How to Overcome Exercise Fears and Start a Fitness Journey" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.