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Getting Started: Exercise for Depression

3: Find an Exercise or Workout That You Enjoy

If you don’t like a type of exercise, chances are you’re not going to do it, whether or not you’re depressed. But if you enjoy what you’re doing -- whether it’s tai chi, bicycling, or walking -- you’ll be more likely to stick with it over time.

If you haven’t found the perfect exercise yet, don’t give up. “I just kept trying different types of exercise classes until I found one that I liked,” Brennan says. “I also really like walking with my dog, so that’s something I can do every day.”

4: When You Feel Depressed and Least Want to Exercise, Do It Anyway

“The days you feel least like exercising are the most important days to get out and do it,” Johnsgard says. “Those are the days when you will feel best after doing it.”

5: Choose an Exercise That’s Convenient

It’s more likely that you’ll exercise if it’s easy and convenient. Walking and running don’t require much equipment and are easy to do from nearly anywhere. The same goes for a gym or exercise class -- if it’s easy to get to and the timing is convenient, it’s more likely that you’ll go.

6: Make Exercise Part of Your Daily Routine, Even When You’re Sad

If the thought of exercise feels like a burden, find ways to incorporate it into your day. For example, try walking on errands instead of driving or take the stairs instead of using the elevator. Or, if you’re watching TV, try riding an exercise bike or walking in place instead of sitting.

Once you start exercising, you should find that it becomes easier, and you may find it’s something you look forward to. “I think the most important thing is to just start doing something, and from there it really does get easier,” Brennan says.

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Reviewed on July 22, 2010

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