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Strength Training For Mental Health: Everything You Need To Know

By David Ottobre
Dare MD

Did you know that strength training can have a positive impact on your mental health? 

In addition to building physical strength, lifting weights can also improve your mood and reduce stress. The benefits of this type of training on mental health have been well documented in recent years, with numerous studies supporting the idea that physical activity can be 1.5 times more effective than counselling or leading medications.

This guide will explore the powerful connection between strength training and mental wellbeing, and provide you with valuable insights on how to incorporate it into your routine for maximum benefits.

Training for mental health: The evidence

Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between strength training and improved mental health. 

One study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that individuals who engaged in regular strength training experienced a significant reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Interestingly, the clinical trial found that strength training had antidepressant effects regardless of the person’s health status, volume of strength training or improvements in strength. Even a small increase in resistance training was able to provide antidepressant effects, proving that you don’t need to be crushing hard workouts or hitting PBs to feel some serious mental health benefits of resistance training.

Another study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that strength training can increase self-esteem and improve body image, leading to a more positive outlook on life. The study found that strength training was associated with significant improvements to body image, health-related quality of life, and overall outlook.

Strength training has the power to boost our mood thanks to chemical reactions going on in the brain. Exercise has the ability to increase the level of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter linked to mood regulation, sleep, libido, appetite and other functions.

The release of endorphins during exercise helps elevate mood and increase positivity. When endorphins interact with receptors in your brain, feelings of pain and stress are reduced and replaced with a sense of euphoria and well-being. 

Meanwhile, strength training also burns off excess cortisol and adrenaline which can reduce stress for hours to come. While hormones like cortisol and adrenaline were highly beneficial to our ancient ancestors who were running from predators and hunting prey, for the modern human who sits at a desk for most of the day, they can become troublesome if not well managed.

Mental health benefits of strength training

Strength training has so many benefits for mental wellbeing. Here are just a few.

Studies show that strength training affects brain plasticity, improving cognition and wellbeing. Physical exercise induces structural and functional changes in the brain, which can improve mood and contribute to a more positive, happy life.

Many people who train regularly find that strength training can provide a sense of accomplishment and empowerment, as you see improvements in your physical strength and appearance. This can boost your self-esteem and confidence, leading to a more positive outlook on life. 

Sleep is vital to our mental health, and without a good night’s sleep things can quickly deteriorate. Strength training helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, which is responsible for controlling your sleep-wake cycle. 

By establishing a consistent strength training routine, you can improve the quality and duration of your sleep, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Better sleep has been linked to improved mood, cognitive function, and overall mental health, making strength training a valuable tool for promoting mental well-being.

The mental health benefits of strength training can overflow into every area of your life, from work to relationships and much more.

As you see progress and improvements in your strength and physical appearance, you develop a sense of accomplishment and pride in your abilities. This newfound confidence can extend beyond the gym and into other areas of your life, helping you tackle challenges and overcome obstacles with a positive mindset. 

Training for mental health

If the idea of training to improve your mental health lights you up, why not meet the Dare coaches who can help you build a routine?

There’s so much more to strength training than just bodybuilding, in fact it’s one of the best ways to boost confidence, develop good habits and improve mental health.

Contact us now to book an initial consultation.