Study: Strength Training Can Reduce Depression Symptoms

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Study: Strength Training Can Reduce Depression Symptoms

If lifting weights isn’t part of your recovery to-dos, you might want to add it, especially if you’re struggling with addiction and depression.

A new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that resistance exercise training (RET), such as weightlifting and strength training, has big mental health benefits. Namely, it helps ease symptoms of depression.

While resistance training isn’t a “cure” for depression, researchers say it’s an accessible and affordable treatment that you can do from home. And it certainly can’t hurt your bones or metabolism either.

The researchers studied the effect of RET in nearly 2,000 people and found that strength training was associated with the following improvements in depressive symptoms — and across the board regardless of a person’s age, sex, health status, specific exercise routine or improvements in physical strength:

  • Low mood
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness

And larger improvements were found among adults with depressive symptoms, suggesting that RET may be most effective for those with greater depressive symptoms, Brett Gordon, the paper’s first author and a postgraduate researcher in the department of physical education and sports sciences at Ireland’s University of Limerick, told TIME.

So how much strength training is required to reap these mental health benefits? Some evidence suggested routines shorter than 45 minutes, said Gordon, who recommends following guidelines by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM): a strength training program a minimum of two non-consecutive days each week, with one set of 8 to 12 repetitions for healthy adults or 10 to 15 repetitions for older and frail individuals.

And, of course, prior to beginning any new exercise program, it’s best to seek medical evaluation and clearance, especially if you’ve been sedentary.

More Benefits of Weight Lifting for Recovery

  • More confidence. Strength training can give you more energy and confidence to meet the many challenges ahead in recovery.
  • Better sleep. Lifting weights has been linked with an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night.
  • Improved mood. Strength training three times a week for six weeks has been linked with less anger and a better overall mood.

Exercise to Support Your Sobriety
At Seabrook, we believe that regular exercise is an important part of your addiction recovery. To this end, we offer clients a fitness center complete with treadmills, elliptical trainers, recumbent bikes, treadmills, free weights and more. To learn more about our treatment program, call today: 800-761-7575.