There is increased awareness about the benefits of weight-training on the human body. Weight training improves muscle mass, bone density, overall strength, gait, posture and balance. It aids weight-loss and helps build a toned body.
In addition to physical health, weight-training has a positive impact on one’s mental health too. Weight-training is known to help people cope with anxiety, depression, stress and rage-issues better. Depression is regarded as an epidemic of the 21st century and nearly 8 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with its symptoms. Long-term depression is known to trigger cardiovascular diseases, high or low BP and Alzheimer’s disease in some people. Weight-training can prevent or even reverse these risks.
You Don’t Have to Take Our Word for This. Various studies have been conducted by institutions such as Duke University, University of Limerick (Ireland) and University of Georgia and papers published in leading journals of the world such as JAMA Psychiatryand Frontiers in Pyschology. These provide clear evidence of the link between weight-training and depression.
The most significant among them are the findings published in JAMA Pyschiatryin May 2018. This pertains to a study conducted in 2017, where nearly 2000 participants across 33 clinical trials were closely monitored. The findings suggest that moderate weight-training can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Doctors have analyzed these findings and provided explanations for the same.
It’s All About Hormones: Hormones regulate various aspects of our mental and physical health. Weight-training is known to increase levels of endorphin, the feel-good hormone, and serotonin, a mood stabilizer. Increase in the levels of these hormones help the person sustain a weight-training program and further, enjoy it over time.
It’s All in Your Brain: The hormones produced cross-over from the blood into the brain where they trigger the production of new cells, new connections between cells and new blood vessels. All these result in better blood flow to the brain and improved mental function. A healthier mental function makes it easy to overcome conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress and promote psychological well-being.
Just Do It: Interestingly, the number of visits to the gym per week or the duration of workout did not matter. The studies revealed that, irrespective of whether the person did weight-training four times a week or just twice, positive impact on mental health was noticed. Similarly, whether he/she worked out for 10 minutes or 45 minutes, the improvement in mood was sustained.
The Social Interaction Helps: The link between weight-training in a gym and improvement in mood is also due to another important factor which is the social interaction or bonding with buddies at the gym. Lack of social interaction is known to heighten symptoms of depression and act as a trigger for Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefits Men and Women Equally: The very mention of depression evokes stereotypes of weeping women. However, both men and women are equally prone to depression. Rage and anger issues in men can be a cover-up for depression. The studies showed that both male and female patients of depression can benefit from regular weight-training.
Pay Attention to Your Diet: Diet and nutrition play an equal role in combating depression. Consult a nutritionist who will prepare a diet plan for you to follow.
Continue With Other Treatments: If you are taking medication or undergoing counselling, you should not discontinue them. Your doctor is best qualified to decide when you can stop these treatments and stick to weight-training alone. Also, please note, if you enjoy other physical activities like cycling, swimming, running or sports, you can indulge in them safely. Weight-training complements the benefits of all these activities and is not meant to substitute any of them. It is just that a weight-training regimen shows pronounced and long-term results.
If you are suffering from depression or anxiety presently, then weight-training is the best thing that could happen to you. Invest in a personal trainer who has knowledge and expertise in this area. He/she will design the ideal workout for you and upgrade the same as you progress. He/she will also guide you at every step to ensure you are doing it right and do not injure yourself. This will help you achieve better and long-term results in your battle against depression.