Strength Training Improves Mental Health

Strength Training Improves
Mental Health

How does this happen?

Through
good research, we know strength training elicits positive effects on the brain
and helps to improve these mental health conditions, including:

  • Anxiety

  • Chronic Pain

  • Cognition

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • Self-esteem

  • Sleep

The question is how does it work? How does a physically-based
training program help us mentally? Let’s look at each health condition
individually:

 

Anxiety

Research
shows low to moderate intensity strength training tends to reduce anxiety in people
not having an anxiety disorder. The effects of high intensity training were not
as great as that of low to moderate which is interesting, proving more is not
always better.

 

Chronic Pain

For
low back pain or osteoarthritis, strength training alone reduces the effects of
both conditions better than aerobic alone or a combination of aerobic and
strength training. In regard to hip or knee osteoarthritis, strength training
has shown to be the most effective type of exercise at reducing pain.

 

Cognition

Studies
have shown improvement in cognitive-type brain functions in older adults as a
result of strength training. But unlike chronic pain, more improvement was
recorded using a combination of aerobic and strength training than with
strength training alone. 

 

Depression

While
exercise in general is good for reducing depression, strength training alone
has shown the most improvement, better than aerobic alone or a combination of
aerobic or strength training. In the case of depression, younger healthy adults
showed a greater mental health improvement than did older adults.

 

Fatigue

You
would think exercising would make fatigued people more fatigued, but it has the
opposite effect. As a matter-of-fact, strength training alone showed more
improvement than did either cognitive behavioral or drug treatments.

 

Self-esteem

It
is a known fact that if we look better, we feel better. Low to moderate
strength training tones and defines muscles, helps regulate weight and makes
for a better looking body. Friends, family and co-workers will ask what you are
doing to look so good!

 

Sleep

People
in studies have gotten better results sleep-wise from high intensity training
than either low or moderate intensity, although most people having trouble
falling asleep can benefit some from any strength training.

 

The psychological benefits come from improved neural
adaptations or how your brain activates muscles. Those connections seem to
improve through strength training. Although more study is needed, it is thought
strength training also improves other mental processes by strengthening, and in
some cases reconnecting, pathways inside the brain which increases brain
functions. 

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By Rod Stone
Author and Publisher of Healthy Living information and products to improve your life.


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