It goes without question that when you exercise, your mood is lifted and you feel so much better as a result. In fact studies have shown that if you’re physically active, your risk of developing mental illnesses or showing signs of poor mental health are reduced – recent research from the University of Limerick found that resistance or weight training significantly reduced depressive symptoms for around 2000 people who participated in their study.
HOW RESISTANCE TRAINING IMPROVES MENTAL HEALTH
We caught up with Keith McNiven, founder of Right Path Fitness who spoke to us about six ways in which resistance training can significantly help with conditions such as anxiety and depression.
THE FEEL GOOD FACTOR
It’s not only cardiovascular exercise like running that can release feel good endorphins in the body but also working out with weights. Try not to avoid the resistance machines in the gym or the weights you have laying around at home – they can be just as beneficial for your mental wellbeing.
CLEAR YOUR MIND
A big factor with mental health can be the overload of problems of which you have no outlet. Resistance training can help by allowing you to work through emotions like stress and worry – grab a slam ball, medicine ball or something similar, clear a space, and get throwing it around. Something so simple can do wonders for your clearing your head.
Isolation can make depressive symptoms worse but the great thing about resistance training is that it often works better as a duo. Grab a friend and do exercises together – why not alternate kettlebell exercises like bicep curls, rows, swings and sit ups, taking it in turns to do the exercise while the other counts the reps?
There’s no doubt that when you are confident with how you are physically, it boosts your emotional and mental wellbeing. Weights and resistance training are said to be a quicker route to improving your shape, burning more calories minute for minute, than cardiovascular exercise.
A key characteristic of some mental health conditions such as depression is a lack of motivation, but having set training days and times planned into your week can give you focus. Plan a weights session at least a couple of times a week, ideally in the morning so you can reap the benefits of your resistance session for the rest of the day.
STRONG BODY, STRONG MIND
When you are in a strong place mentally, you are equipped to deal with whatever life throws your way, and developing your body through weight training can help you to reach this place. Resistance training is brilliant for improving bone density and health, and you’ll see the physical evidence through the increased amount of weight you can lift or reps you can complete over time. Strengthen your body, and psychologically it will benefit your mind too.