Exercise is about more than keeping in shape. It also can help with your emotional and mental health. Exercise can help you improve your self-esteem, keep your mind off problems, and give you a sense of control. In general, people who are fit have less anxiety, depression, and stress than people who are not active.1
Moderate exercise is safe for most people, but it's a good idea to talk to your doctor before increasing your activity. Anyone age 65 or older should talk to a doctor before exercise.
It can be hard to be active when you feel depressed or anxious or have a mental health problem. But activity can help you feel better, so do your best to find a way to be active. It's fine to start with small steps. You can build up from a few minutes a day.
Do your best to slowly work up to moderate activity for at least 2½ hours a week. Moderate activity means things like brisk walking, brisk cycling, or shooting baskets. But any activities—including daily chores—that raise your heart rate can be included. Find a pace that is comfortable. You can be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
If you have problems exercising on your own, ask someone to exercise with you or join an exercise group or health club.
For more information, see the topic Fitness.
- Buchner DM (2012). Physical activity. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 56–58. Philadelphia: Saunders.
- Wiles NJ, et al. (2007). Physical activity and common mental disorders: Results from the Caerphilly study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 165(8): 946–954.
- Cipriani A, et al. (2011). Depression in adults (drug and other physical treatments), search date June 2009. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry|
|Last Revised||January 12, 2011|
Last Revised: January 12, 2011
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