Contributed by Kimberly Black
Health & Fitness Professional
upLIFTing: Can Strength Training Help Decrease Anxiety and Depression?
It’s time to start thinking about your strength training as more than just physical. It’s also a huge component in our mental health and wellbeing. Think about it, what are some things you might do when you’re stressed or depressed? Maybe go for a hike or run, hit the weights, sweat it out in a power yoga class. While those are all physical activities, we often use them to combat those mental and emotional stressors we’re dealing with.
First, it’s important to note that while anxiety and depression often come hand in hand, they are two separate things. Anxiety refers to an excessive and uncontrollable feeling of nervousness, unease and worry, and often it’s felt even when there is nothing wrong or anything to worry about. Depression can display itself as an overwhelming feeling of sadness, disinterest, dejection and feelings of low self-worth. Both can lead to disordered eating, trouble sleeping, body pains, low mood and poor quality of life.
A study showed that strength training can help people feel less anxious and nervous. The exercises don’t have to be high intensity either, in fact high-intensity resistance training is actually less beneficial in reducing anxiety. Low-moderate intensity with weight that’s about 70% of your 1 rep max has the most positive effect on anxiety.
When it comes to depression it was found that resistance training consistently reduced the symptoms of depression. It didn’t matter how much they were lifting or even how often they were going to the gym. It also didn’t matter what type of training was done, whether it was heavier weight with less reps, or light weight with more reps; the benefits were seen in both. A study even showed that as little as just 1-2 hours of strength training a week was beneficial in preventing and reducing symptoms of depression. It should be noted that keeping the workouts to 45 minutes was the most beneficial. This gives you a feeling of accomplishment and a mood boost, while also leaving you wanting a little bit more without overexerting yourself.
The positive effects on mood were seen in all ages, from young adults, through middle age, and even in elderly individuals. Even more interesting is that people didn’t need to see physical improvements to feel less anxious or depressed. Just showing up and putting in the work made the most difference in improving quality of life.
Let us here at JKFitness help you improve all parts of your health and wellness. We are educated and caring health and fitness professionals ready to help you start your journey to a better quality of life, both physically and mentally.