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Depression Health Center

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Exercise and Depression

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Should I Talk to my Doctor Before Exercising?

For most people, it is OK to start an exercise program without checking with a health care provider. However, if you have not exercised in a while, are over age 50, or have a medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease, contact your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

How Can I Decide What Types of Exercise to Do?

Before you begin an exercise program for depression, here are some questions you should consider:

  • What physical activities do I enjoy?
  • Do I prefer group or individual activities?
  • What programs best fit my schedule?
  • Do I have physical conditions that limit my choice of exercise?
  • What goals do I have in mind? (For example: weight loss, strengthening muscles, improving flexibility, or mood enhancement)

How Often Should I Exercise to Ease Depression?

Try to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week. Studies indicate that exercising four or five times a week is even better. Take it easy if you are just beginning. Start exercising for 20 minutes. Then you can build up to 30 minutes.

What Are Some Tips for Getting Started Exercising?

When you first start your exercise program, you should plan a routine that is easy to follow and maintain. When you start feeling comfortable with your routine, then you can start varying your exercise times and activities.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Choose an activity you enjoy. Exercising should be fun.
  • Put your exercise routine into your schedule. If you need reminding, put it on your calendar.
  • Variety is the spice of life. Make sure you vary your exercises so that you don't get bored. Check your local gymnasium or community center for an assortment of exercise programs.
  • Don't let exercise programs break the bank. Unless you are going to be using them regularly, avoid buying health club memberships or expensive equipment.
  • Stick with it. If you exercise regularly, it will soon become part of your lifestyle and will help reduce your depression.
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