Lifting Weights and Mental Health

It is fairly common knowledge that lifting weights and exercise as a whole is good for you physically, but more and more people are starting to figure out that lifting weights is great for their mental health.

Weight lifting can actually effect many different aspects of mental health, so if you’re looking for a mental edge in life you’ve come to the right place.

Confidence/Self Esteem

This is more for the individual, but most people would agree that once they start a weight lifting program they’ll feel more confident and will have an elevated self-esteem. At its most basic level, people are committing to something that will better themselves physically and this commitment plus success in ones’ goals will create a feeling of accomplishment. Once you start seeing the results from your hard work, that’s when you really start feeling confident, whether its setting a new PR, adding an inch to your arms, or even finding a new vein in your biceps from the days pump, that feeling of accomplishment will boost self-esteem by a lot.

Happiness

The confidence may be part of the reason for being a happier person, but when you weight train, your physiology goes through a couple changes. When you start your weight training for the day, your brain will start to send endorphins into the body. These endorphins cause feelings of happiness for the individual. The release of endorphins could be from any number of things varying from the above accomplishments, to just being happy you’re done with the workout for the day.

Depression

If you suffer from depression even clinically diagnosed major depression, weight training/resistance training can help reduce the symptoms by a lot. Exercise isn’t as much the cure as it is a treatment that should be done along with whatever a physician may tell you to do, but if you can break through any lack of motivation that comes from depression and get into the gym to lift some heavy weights, sooner or later you will overall feel depression get less severe.

Anxiety

If you’re someone who has to deal with anxiety or are chronically stressed, then you should definitely give weight training a try. Now this isn’t an excuse to go off doctor prescribed medications, but it sure can help the medications treat your anxiety and stress. This articlegathers quite a few research articles for the effects of resistance training on many aspects of mental health and they found that moderate intensity weight training (50-60% of 1RepMax) yields the best results for combating anxiety.

Cognitive Function

Cognitive function involves perception, thinking, reasoning, and remembering, and it can be seen in many studies that weight training can have a positive effect on all these. Many companies are starting to see the positive association between weight training and cognitive function and running with it. The increased cognition means being more productive which is why it is becoming more common to have corporate wellness programs that will either give rewards for being active or will supply discounted gym memberships to employees.

Fatigue and Sleep

Both fatigue and bad sleeping habits are signs of mental distress and left out of check, they can lead to more worse problems. Picking up weight lifting and exercise in general has actually been shown to be the best way to help fight both of these without the use of drugs. A lot of people may feel tired after the gym, but the increase in blood flow will actually wake you up quite a bit. The brain will be receiving more blood too, so it will be able to perform more efficiently and effectively. This is why it isn’t recommended to lift late at night, since it could make it harder to fall asleep. With that being said, if you did exercise during the day, you are much more likely to sleep harder and better for longer.

Exercise and resistance training for most people is all about getting healthy, and as more research comes out, we are seeing that they both do wonders for many different aspects of our overall wellness in life. Whether you’re someone who has a mental illness, low self-esteem, chronic stress, or just have poor sleeping habits, beginning the right weight lifting program will help almost definitely. Being smart in the gym can really help you be smarter in life, so when starting a program do some of your own research to see what people say about it. German volume training and high intensity interval training both come to mind and are both very different but may show some very similar results. The most important thing is that you’re doing it for you, and that even though it can be tough, you should look forward to being a better version of yourself.

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