Most of us are aware of how exercise influences our physical body and health and that it can positively influence your mental health as well. What you might not know, though, is that certain physical activities are more influential than others.
One study discovered that team sports have a positive impact on mental health and mostly has to do with the social aspect of team sports. As social creatures, humans enjoy being with others. There is a great benefit to forming relationships. Science often touts the benefit of activities like cycling and running due to its effect on certain brain chemicals and hormones that influence our mood in a positive way. One specific type of physical activity can heavily influence your mental health and it largely goes unnoticed. Strength Training.
Strength Training, Depression & Anxiety
The World Health Organization statistics show that worldwide, over 300 million people live with depression. Depression is characterized by sleep disturbances, low mood, fatigue, appetite (loss or increase), as well as a loss of enjoyment. Strength training can help.
A meta-review of 33 studies found that strength training reduced the presence of depressive symptoms. Likewise, anxiety is even more prevalent than depression. If you want to rid yourself of the constant feelings of worry and restlessness, then strength training can help. Moderate-intensity training should be more than sufficient to make strides.
Strength Training, Self-Esteem & Cognitive Function
Self-esteem is an important component of psychological health. Strength training can provide you with a boost in self-esteem. Strength training improves body definition and muscle mass, and this provides you with an increase in body image.
The University of British Colombia explored the effects of strength training on cognitive function. They found that older adults can benefit from strength training. It can slow the decline of decision making, attention, and memory. Brain training is thought to be helpful, yet strength training leads to longer-term cognitive benefits.
Strength Training & Well-Being
Your overall well-being is influenced by your mental health and vice versa. Therefore, the fact that strength training improves your overall well-being is an important step in protecting your mental health. There is something meditative about strength training. The process starts with stretching to improve mobility. It primes your muscles for the activity about to take place, but that also primes your mind to be fully focused on the task at hand. That’s what meditation is, the process of complete focus on the present. Strength training has this in spades. You can completely detach yourself from everything else when you are in a strength training session and completing a session is followed by a reflection of your performance. There is a deep satisfaction in knowing what you have just accomplished. It’s difficult to find physical activities that provide you with this same focus and state of presence.
Strength training, or any other activity, isn’t a cure-all for mental illness. It is something you can use in conjunction with professional medical help. It will benefit your mental health and in every aspect of your life.