We all know that when we exercise, it lifts our mood and makes us feel better. In fact studies have shown that if you’re physically active, your risk of developing depression reduces by 15%. Recent research from the University of Limerick found that resistance or weight training significantly reduced depressive symptoms for around 2,000 people who participated in their study. With this in mind, we caught up with Keith McNiven, founder of London based personal training company Right Path Fitness (https://rightpathfitness.co.uk/) to give us his 6 top tips on how resistance training can significantly help with depression.
1) The feel good factor
When we think of exercises that lift our mood, we tend to automatically think of cardiovascular exercises like running, but, working out with weights can be just as beneficial for your mental wellbeing. So, don’t avoid the resistance machines in the gym, they can be just as effective as the cardio machines at releasing feel good endorphins.
2) Clear the mind
A big factor in depression can be an overload of problems and no outlet. Resistance training can help by allowing you to work through emotions like stress and worry. Grab a slam ball, Sandbell or medicine ball, clear a space, and slam the ball down on each and every negative thought that passes through your mind.
3) Body confidence
There’s no doubt that when you look your best physically, it boosts your emotional and mental wellbeing. And weights can actually be a quicker route to improving your shape, burning more calories minute for minute, than cardiovascular exercise.
A key characteristic of depression is a lack of motivation, but having set training days and times planned into your week can give you focus. Plan a weights session at least a couple of times a week, ideally in the morning so you can reap the benefits of your resistance session for the rest of the day.
Isolation can make depressive symptoms worsen, but the great thing about resistance training is that it often works better as a duo. Grab a friend and do alternate kettle bell exercises like bicep curls where you raise the kettlebell up towards your chest, rows where you hold the kettlebell and raise your elbow upwards, or sit ups where you grab the kettlebell from the floor in front of you as you sit up. Take turns to do the exercise, whilst the other counts the reps.
6) Strong body, strong mind
When you are in a strong place mentally, you are equipped to deal with whatever life throws your way and developing your body through weight training can help you to reach this place. Resistance training is brilliant for improving bone density and health, and you can also see the physical evidence through the increased amount of weight you can lift or reps you can complete over time. Strengthen your body, and psychologically it will benefit your mind.