Strength Exercises May Ease Your Depression Symptoms

Recent findings suggest that pumping iron could pump up your mood too.

Strength Exercises May Ease Your Depression Symptoms

By Kent Peterson Published at May 28 Views 773 Comments 1

Kent Peterson, senior editor, has also produced award-winning work in television and radio.

Aerobic exercises like running and bicycling have been shown in many studies to help relieve depression symptoms. But do strength exercises like pushups and weightlifting provide the same benefits? For the first time, a major study has answers.

Revealing the link

Authors of the study put a wealth of previous strength-training research under the microscope. They examined 33 clinical trials involving nearly 2,000 people with depression symptoms. A clear and convincing trend emerged: strength training, also known as resistance exercise training or RET, was linked to significant improvements in a variety of depressive symptoms in adults, including:

  • Low feelings of self-worth
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Persistently low mood
  • And others

It didn’t matter what kind of strength-training exercises were done. It didn’t even matter whether participants exercised enough to increase their strength. And the age and sex of the participants didn’t make a difference either.

The improvements were comparable to those from talk therapy and antidepressants, the leading depression treatments. That finding has some experts saying that strength training might make a good add-on or alternative therapy for treating depressive symptoms.

Why does RET seem to help? Experts aren’t sure. One theory is that increased blood flow from exercise stimulates changes in the brain and the release of chemicals that improve your mood.

Seeing for yourself

This type of study can’t prove cause and effect, and exercise isn’t a cure for depression. Still, it can be easy and inexpensive to see if resistance training helps you. Besides lifting weights, other ways to do RET at home include using resistance bands and doing exercises that use your own body weight as resistance. YouTube videos can show you how.

Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. And never stop a prescribed depression treatment before discussing it with your mental health provider.

Exercise has a long list of other benefits for your mind and body. Get moving and see what a difference it could make in your life!

Have you noticed that exercise affects your mood? Add a comment below and tell our community about it.

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