April is National Mental Health Month – Improve Your Mental Health with Strength Training

For national mental health month, we’re going to take a look at how high-intensity strength training can improve several symptoms and aspects of your mental health. We’ve all heard that exercising releases endorphins, a “feel good” chemical, but it looks like the link between strength training and mental health is more complex than that.

According to the paper “Resistance Training Improves Mental Health” by Amenda Ramirez and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., which reviews the article “Mental health benefits of strength training in adults” in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, moderate to high intensity strength training can improve both anxiety and depression symptoms in adult men and women.

Strength Training and Anxiety

According to the study, “resistance training is a meaningful intervention for people suffering from anxiety. Interestingly, two of the seven studies compared the effects of high-intensity resistance training (exercises performed at 80% of 1-repetition maximum versus moderate-intensity (50%-60% of 1 repetition maximum) and found that anxiety was better reduced with the moderate-intensity resistance training.” Anxiety is reported among 15% of the U.S. populations, and is associated with poor sleep, mental distress, bodily pain, poor health and limitations to physical activity.

Strength Training and Depression

Depression is another mental health issue that affects many Americans. Depression can be responsible for mood disturbances, fatigue, lack of motivation, insomnia (or excessive sleep called hypersomnia), restlessness, agitation, and body weight fluctuations. According to the paper, “Several studies show a significantly positive effect from the resistance exercise while others have shown little change in depression. Perhaps further investigation is needed to determine if there is an optimal dose of resistance training for persons suffering from symptoms of depression. Four studies have investigated the effect of resistance training with clinically diagnosed depressed adults. The results are unanimous; large reductions in depression from resistance training participation.”

Science doesn’t yet understand exactly how exercise and high intensity strength training improves your mental health, but they do know that it has shown repeatedly to have a positive impact. In honor of National Mental Health Month, talk to a qualified trainer today about starting a strength training regimen.

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