We’ve all heard how exercising is an essential tool in combatting issues such as depression and anxiety and can have astonishing effects on improving your overall mental health and sense of wellbeing… Not to mention being great for your body!
But seeing as not all of us enjoy running, we’ve looked into some other brilliant ways you can strengthen your mind while strengthening your body.
Strength training covers various workouts designed to boost various muscle groups to make you stronger, more flexible, and more powerful. This could be from lifting weights in the gym, bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups or push-ups, or using resistance bands (like the ones from Victorem) to train and tone your body.
Weight training is best used in combination with more cardiovascular exercises to provide you both with a range of different workouts and ensure you stay limber and capable… But what does that have to do with your mental health?
Well, various studies have already been undertaken that link physical exercise with a healthy body and mind. Therefore, anything that gets your body moving and your heart pumping is almost guaranteed to help combat symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety.
Weight training, in particular, offers a plethora of mental health benefits. Some of these are scientific (the release of endorphins), while many have more metaphorical connotations (control, durability, patience).
Worldwide, over 300 million people live with some form of depression, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with symptoms including low mood, reduced energy, loss of enjoyment, poor sleep, and significant appetite changes.
Strength training can be an incredibly effective treatment in almost all of these factors:
– Working out helps the body feel more tired, improving sleep
– The sense of accomplishment following a workout can boost mood
– Hitting goals can provide enjoyment and fulfillment
– Strength training effectively burns calories, which can help in cases of reduced appetite, while the calorie-burning power is great for anyone who’s overeating
A balance of being physically stronger and more capable with a boost to your self-esteem can help you feel more prepared for whatever the day has in store for you.
What’s even better is the studies have shown weightlifting “significantly reduced” depression symptoms seemingly regardless of your age, overall health, what weights you’re lifting, or whether you actually get stronger. Just the simple process of strength training is sufficient.
Anxiety is commonly seen as a cousin of depression, and the two frequently come hand-in-hand, even if one or the other is worse.
Luckily, strength training can also be instrumental in reducing feelings of anxiety. This can help people with diagnosed chronic anxiety or those who are just feeling overwhelmed and stressed in the short term.
Although most studies on strength training and anxiety don’t detail why strength training can aid with anxiety, fitness experts have long recognized the benefits of exercise.
It’s speculated that the levels of control and patience required to lift weights can be reflected in day-to-day life. Something as small as remembering to breathe in as you squat and out as you rise (or strain) can have real-life connotations that are invaluable when living with anxiety.
In today’s global, online, social-media-obsessed world, it’s easy to compare yourself with people who appear to be living their best lives and falling short.
We all know that social media posts and magazines are prepared with rose-tinted glasses (and plenty of photoshop). Still, when we see these incredible men and women who seem to effortlessly glide through life, our own sense of self-esteem is bound to suffer.
Strength training can offer a much-needed boost to self-esteem levels. This can be literal in many cases: as your fitness goes up and your body becomes more toned, you’re likely to feel more confident in your appearance… But it also goes further than this.
Having stronger muscles isn’t just a vanity problem. Even simple tasks such as changing water coolers, taking the stairs when the elevator breaks down or squatting to help your little one tie their shoelaces are all much easier with a bit of extra physical strength. Being able to simply move around and complete your daily chores with fewer aches and pains can work wonders on your self-esteem… You can do it.
Obviously, any form of exercise can work wonders for our mental and physical health… But strength training often goes beyond this by providing plenty of metaphors that are appropriate both in and out of the gym.
Letting go with care, remembering to breathe, and the value of productive rest are all vital for strength training safely and efficiently and are excellent lessons for us to learn in daily life, too.
With so many benefits to strength training, it’s a wonder more medical professionals aren’t recommending people living with a mental health condition turn to physical trainers as well as therapists.
When talking is done, it might be time to hit the gym to boost your mental and physical health.