There can be several reasons for this. It’s actually really common to find that people have anxieties around exercise. One reason might be that you’re new to it. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know if you’re going to be any good, how you’re going to get on with it. You really want to like it because you want the benefits, or the doctors told you to do it. Or your partner exercises, and you want to do that together, but you don’t know what to expect. That’s normal. Just go for it. Find a personal trainer if that suits you. Someone who can ease you into the exercise, and pace, and give you the appropriate type and intensity of exercise. Or just get started. My stepfather has just had great results with a Couch to 5K programme, so I’d recommend that. You can find it on the NHS website or just Google Couch to 5K.

If you’re new to exercise, try and mitigate some of that anxiety by just getting started, and start small. Another reason you might find it anxiety inducing is that your nervous system is already elevated. If that’s the case, the worst type of exercise for you is going to be high intensity exercise. Start with something that’s gentle, restorative. Yoga would be a great thing to do. Light jogging would be another. Perhaps a sport that’s not super high intensity. An easy game of tennis, for example, where you’ve also got some social element. Where you’ve got somebody at the other side of the court, and you can have a drink afterwards perhaps.

What I mean by an elevated nervous system is that you’re stressed; you already have high levels of anxiety, your sleep and your mental health might be affected. High intensity exercise is definitely not the right intensity for you. Maybe it’s that you’re worried about breathing, and this is something I hear quite a bit. If you’re worried about your breath, perhaps you’ve had anxiety in the past, and you associate being out of breath with panic or anxiety. That’s also pretty common, so start slow. What I do when I work with people who feel that way, is we just start with doing a short run. Get used to having your breathing elevated. Get used to breathing yourself back into a relaxed state, and then increase the periods of time that you’re elevating your breath for. That’s really effective, and it just helps you to overcome that initial reluctance to get your heart rate up and your breathing up because it associates with panic.

Last thing is to set small goals if you’re nervous about exercise, for example, because you’re new to it. Set small goals, and that applies to all the other points I’ve made as well. Forget your ego. Forget that, “I ought to be good at this. I used to be good at this. I’m good at everything, why am I not at this?” That prevents, I think, a lot of people from really enjoying exercise because they think they ought to be better at it than they are. It’s something that we should all be doing along with plenty of activity in the day.

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Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


  • Leanne is an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. She delivered a TEDx talk on 'Why fitness is more important than weight', is the author of bestselling books 'Remove the Guesswork' and 'Rise and Shine', and hosts a podcast called ’Remove the Guesswork‘. Leanne is the founder of Bodyshot Performance, an award-winning health and wellbeing company. Bodyshot Performance work with businesses of up to 500 people who want to create a culture of energy, vitality and performance through the business and position wellbeing as a competitive advantage. Bodyshot intersect the latest science and technology to provide unique solutions to the challenge of wellbeing in the workplace that have a direct impact on the bottom line. Our clients have won awards for wellbeing and recognise it directly improves employee engagement and retention and attracts talent into the business.  We also work with chronically stressed or burned out professionals to get you back in control of your health and able to do the things you want to do in life. My expertise is around health, fitness and wellbeing, specifically focusing on sleep, mental health, energy, body composition, digestion and fitness. I host a popular podcast on iTunes called ’Remove the Guesswork ‘, and in November 2016 I delivered a TEDx talk on 'Why fitness is more important than weight'. I’m the author of the bestselling books 'Remove the Guesswork' and 'Rise and Shine' and I regularly speak to corporates on health and wellbeing. My personal values are to live truthfully, considerately and to "suck all the marrow out of life" as Thoreau said. I support the charity Diversity Role Models which works to combat homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. I recently completed the world’s toughest ski race to raise £10,125 for Alzheimer's Research as my father-in-law was profoundly ill with Alzheimers, and I am on a constant mission to find ways to live in a way that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. I love sport, fitness, reading, gardening, business, podcasting, and being with my cat and our scampish little rescue dog, Kami from Romania.