If you've ever tried weight training, you'll know it can be pretty addictive. Feeling the benefits of the extra strength your body gains gives you a real sense of achievement. And often, that spurs you on try lifting heavier weights and more challenging resistance-based exercises.
Now, a new study has found that weight training can also have a positive effect on mental health. The study by researchers from the University of Limerick, published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal, analysed the results of 33 different clinical studies tracking a total of 1,877 people.
The study's authors examined whether resistance exercise training (RET) such as weight training had any effect on common symptoms of depression. These included experiencing a low mood, feelings of worthlessness and a loss of interest in activities.
The authors concluded that "resistance exercise training significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults" regardless of their overall health, exactly how much weight training they did, or whether they gained in strength by doing it.
“Interestingly, larger improvements were found among adults with depressive symptoms indicative of mild-to-moderate depression compared to adults without such scores, suggesting RET may be particularly effective for those with greater depressive symptoms,” co-author Brett Gordon told TIME.
It's worth noting that the study's authors concluded that further research is still needed. This would determine the extent to which weight training can improve symptoms of depression compared to "other empirically supported treatments" such as medication.
Still, the results definitely suggest that taking a strength and resistance class (or spending half an hour in the free weights section) could boost your mind as well as your muscles.
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