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How Resistance Training Can Improve Your Mental Health

You might hear others claim fitness is therapy or that the squat rack is their sanctuary, but exactly how does lifting weights or sweat-soaked HIIT sessions lead to a more confident, energised & empowered self? We know resistance training leads to a stronger, more sculpted body, but we’ve listed the lesser-known benefits of the weight room that go beyond what you see in the mirror.


When it comes to the benefits of resistance training, the psychological can be just as powerful as the physical. Whether it’s pandemic panic or feeling self-conscious in the squat rack, resistance training has been shown to effectively manage symptoms of anxiety across numerous studies. In one study, a group of women with generalised anxiety disorder were split into resistance training, aerobic exercise and sedentary groups. Both active groups led to significant decreases in symptoms of anxiety, however it was the resistance training group which saw the best results. Even at low to moderate intensity, resistance training has been shown to create consistent decreases in depressive symptoms, as well as increases in cognition and self-esteem.


As your strength flourishes, so will your confidence. That’s because resistance training imitates life - Every workout, movement & personal best is a challenge for you to conquer using your inner and outer strength. Seeing improvements and feeling that sense of accomplishment on such a consistent basis will make you a more confident person, boost your self esteem and elevate your perception of your self worth.


We know training can boost your mood, but what about your creativity? One study measured mood and creative thinking in participants before and after training, with results showing a large increase in both positive and creative thinking for up to two hours afterwards. This is because exercise boosts the growth of cells in the part of your brain responsible for the conception of ideas, as well as a good sweat helping to clear your mind. Next time you need a burst of creativity, let the gym be your muse.


Following a tough resistance workout your brain will release endorphins, which are chemicals emitted by the nervous system which create feelings of euphoria and wellbeing. While resistance training is by no means a cure, it has been shown in multiple studies to significantly reduce depressive symptoms regardless of mental health status. Importantly, mood was shown to improve regardless of whether the participants grew physically stronger, suggesting that you can boost your mood purely through the sense of fulfillment and accomplishment from completing a workout.


Struggle with sleep? Count reps instead of sheep. Resistance training has been shown to improve both sleep quality and time, with one study comparing an inactive group with a group that took part in 3 x 30 minute workouts involving 2-3 sets of five resistance training exercises. Those in the training group both fell asleep faster and reported a higher quality sleep than those who didn’t exercise. Of course, a better sleep has numerous benefits in itself, including increased productivity, performance, recovery and mental health.

Empower yourself and discover the mental health benefits of resistance training with Pushh, the number one resistance training app.


By Sean Nunan

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