How do you begin an exercise plan? What kind of exercise is best, and how much exercise is enough to make a difference in helping to manage depression? The answers to these questions are different for each individual. Here are some guidelines to help you get started.
- First, it’s always recommended that you check with your doctor or health care provider before you begin any exercise program. Your doctor can assess your overall fitness level and work with you to determine some general guidelines to follow based on your age and current physical condition.
- Next, choose an activity that you like to do. Ideally, exercise should be enjoyable, not a dreaded chore. Don’t assume that you need to make a big investment in equipment or gym memberships – walking, playing a sport, or doing yard work are all terrific ways to boost your activity level. The key is simply to get moving.
- Decide how much activity is right for you. The American Heart Association recommends that adults devote thirty minutes, five days each week to physical activity to help maintain overall health. That’s a good starting point as you plan your exercise program.
- If you haven’t been physically active for some time, thirty minutes per day five times a week may be a “stretch goal” for you at first. Start slowly and increase your activity level over time. And remember: you can break up your activity into shorter segments during the day, like taking three ten-minute walks, rather than one half-hour session.
- Most people find it helpful to set and maintain a regular routine. Physical activity is as important as any other responsibility you have during the day. When exercise is a priority with a set place on your daily calendar, you will be less likely to forget it or neglect it. So plan on it, and stick to your plan.