THE EXERCISE CATASTROPHE
by Federico Romaniello
Cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases are insidious when it comes to exercise. Lungs problems and minimal physical exertion might give you a high sense of breathlessness (dyspnea). Consequently, you will start to avoid physical activity to escape that gasping for air, but is avoiding exercising helping you? Escape from exercise because of a threat is a type of “catastrophic thought”: If I exercise, I will feel breathless. If I am breathless, I will be out of oxygen soon. Without oxygen, I might faint.
Lack of exercise is just the first step of a downwards spiral staircase:
breathlessness > fear of physical activity > less movement > fewer muscles strength > more oxygen demand > breathlessness
chest discomfort > fear of exercise > less movement > weaker heart > more work required to pump blood > chest discomfort
Catastrophic thoughts are often led from anxiety and it is hard to escape from the spiral once you have fallen into it. However, a tiny amount of knowledge and professional medical advice can help you out with this horrible situation! Mental help is suggested for you to win against your fear of movement, and medical advice is required to train safely!
It will not require long before the spiral of catastrophe will turn into a spiral of health!
breathlessness > exercise suggested by a health practitioner > more strength >less oxygen demand >less breathlessness >more exercise
hearth problem > exercise suggested by a health practitioner >more strength >less effort to pump blood > less uncomfortable feelings due to exercise > more exercise
Wiebe, J. (2018) What is catastrophic thinking?. Available from: https://www.talkspace.com/blog/catastrophic-thinking-thought-spirals-how-to-stop/#:~:text=This%20anxiety%20spiral%20%E2%80%94%20also%20known,an%20avalanche%20of%20related%20anxieties. [last accessed: 3.10.20]