Depression and anxiety are pervasive mental health conditions affecting millions worldwide. While conventional treatments like medication and therapy have proven effective for some, others seek alternative ways to alleviate symptoms and boost their well-being. Recent research highlights the potential of strength training as a powerful tool in reducing the impact of depression and anxiety.
A study featured in the Harvard Health blog shows that individuals with mild to moderate depression who engaged in resistance training for at least two days a week experienced “significant” reductions in their depressive symptoms, compared to those who didn’t. The core mechanism behind these mood improvements lies in resistance training’s ability to enhance neuromuscular efficiency. Resistance training essentially “activates” and reawakens dormant muscle groups, contributing to an overall mood enhancement.
Washington Post journalist, Lorne David Opler wrote, “Resistance training, like other exercise, induces the release of a protein called BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, into the hippocampus region of the brain. Among other functions, the hippocampus is responsible for mood regulation, and in people who are depressed, it shrinks up to 25 percent of its normal volume. The release of BDNF triggers the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, restoring it to its full size and improving communication between cells.”
Simply put, resistance training can really improve your mood and the science proves it. A blog from Muscle Squad says “evidence suggests lifting heavy weights is particularly good at boosting natural levels of dopamine (the feel good hormone associated with learning, memory, and motor system function) and endorphins (the body’s natural pain reliever).”
Another added bonus of strength or resistance training is it is free of side-effects associated with medications. If you’re seeking a natural and effective way to combat depression and anxiety, consider incorporating strength training into your routine. Beyond its physical benefits, it can provide essential support for your mental well-being. In your journey towards improved mental health, strength training can become a valuable ally, assisting you in overcoming the challenges of depression and anxiety.
Here’s that “bottomline” thing that is appropriately appearing at the bottom: We are designed to move in order to optimize our mental and physical health, that hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. Our remarkable ability to create comfort in just about every aspect of our lives is leading to a massive increase in Type II Diabetes, Alzheimers, mental health issues and for many, a regression in vitality. Meaningful movement is rarely built into our day. What would it look like if more of our mental healthcare professionals prescribed the right meds to deliver the help needed, but also prescribed physical activity to potentially help our bodies fully regulate without medications whenever possible?