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Doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week can significantly improve depression symptoms. But smaller amounts of activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — can make a difference. It may take less time exercising to improve your mood when you do more-vigorous activities, such as running or bicycling.
The mental health benefits of exercise may last only if you stick with it over the long term — another good reason to focus on finding activities you enjoy.
Starting and sticking with an exercise routine can be a challenge. Here are some steps that can help. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program to make sure it's safe for you.
Talk to your doctor to make sure you know which activities, how much exercise and what intensity level is OK for you. Your doctor will consider any medications you take and health conditions you have. He or she may also have some good advice about getting started and staying motivated.
If you exercise regularly but anxiety or depression symptoms still interfere with your daily living, see your doctor or other mental health provider. Exercise is a great way to ease symptoms of anxiety or depression, but it isn't a substitute for psychotherapy or medications.
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