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Doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week may significantly improve depression symptoms. But smaller amounts of physical activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — may 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 and physical activity may last only if you stick with it over the long term — another good reason to focus on finding activities that you enjoy.
Starting and sticking with an exercise routine or regular physical activity can be a challenge. These steps 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 find out which activities, how much exercise and what intensity level is OK for you. Your doctor will consider any medications you take and your health conditions. He or she may also have helpful 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 and physical activity are great ways to ease symptoms of anxiety or depression, but they aren't a substitute for psychotherapy or medications.
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