With an epidemic rise in suicide and depression, people are looking for answers and chasing away depression. Unfortunately, there are so many reasons it occurs that finding the one cure will probably never happen. Even medications for depression work differently in each person, causing even worse depression in some. One of the is to use strength building exercises. You’ll not only get help lifting your spirits, you’ll get stronger in the process.
There’s scientific evidence to back this hypothesis.
One meta-analysis, which is an analysis of several studies at once, showed that people involved in strength training showed a significant improvement and reduction of the symptoms of depression. The study showed it occurred over a broad spectrum of people of differing health status, amount of strength training and whether they improved their strength or not. It showed less improvement for those without symptoms of depression and more for those who had mild or moderate symptoms.
You’ll get other mental health benefits from strength training.
There are reasons that the World Health Organization suggests at least two days of strength training a week. The first is that the body needs it to be at its fittest and reduce the potential for bone loss. But it also benefits the mind and emotions, not just from the rush of “happy hormones,” although that’s part of it. It’s been shown to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, lower the symptoms of depression, improve self-esteem and even improve cognitive thinking in older adults.
What does exercise do for you?
Some studies also show that aerobic exercise also can help alleviate depression, just as strength training is. Part of that is the dopamine, endorphins and norepinephrine the body creates during exercise that boost your mood. It may come from the fact that you’re doing something good for yourself and improving your life or from the creation of new neurons that release a chemical to create a more calm state of mind. The brain also releases substances that block feelings of depression and pain when you exercise. However, several studies of older adults found that HIIT lowered symptoms of depression far better than low intensity workouts or even normal care received for depression.
- Exercise also boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a protein that’s often lower in people with depression.
- One large study of 34,000 adults showed that over the 11 years studied, people who had at least one or two hours of exercise a week were less likely to be depressed. Those who got no exercise boosted their potential by 44 percent to develop it.
- Since exercise enhances sleep, that improved sleep may also be a reason for lifting depression.
- Getting stronger can boost your feeling of being in control and pride, just as sticking with any exercise program can. One study showed that with just ten weeks of resistance training, 80 percent of the depressed older adults studied showed significant improvement.