Depression & Anxiety Exercise

To Start

People with depressive and anxiety disorders oftentimes have trouble getting up in the morning to do the dishes. It can seem like an impossible task, then, to follow an exercise routine, something many mentally fit adults find themselves unable to do. The key, like with any cure for mental illness, is to take small steps. Start by doing light exercise a few times a week; you don't have to do more than you want at first. Work your way up to larger amounts of exercise.

Maximum Effect

For full effect, you'll need about a half an hour of exercise three to five times a week. When you have worked your way up to that, you should begin to feel better. Your depressive and anxiety symptoms should be diminished, and you may notice other beneficial effects, like falling asleep easier and being able to concentrate longer.


Persistence is key, and to keep the symptoms of mental illness at bay you need to keep exercising on a weekly basis. This can be tough, especially when you are feeling particularly depressed or anxious, and you are less inclined to exercise. One way to increase the likelihood of exercise is to choose an activity you enjoy. It doesn't matter what exercise you do, as long as you get the blood pumping. So think about it, and choose something you like.


Mental health professionals can be very helpful with an exercise program. If you are seeing a psychologist for an anxiety disorder or another mental illness, talk to him about this. He can help figure out an good exercise plan for you, and will be able to tell if it is working. Also, having a friend available is helpful. Some days, you simply won't want to exercise. Find a friend you can call when that happens, so he can talk you into getting off the couch and into on the sweatsuit. Exercise can be an important coping mechanism for dealing with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety disorders. Exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals, into the brain and body. It also is proven to reduce stress. A 1999 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that regular exercise was just as effective as the antidepressant Zoloft in treating depression.