Studies have shown that resistance training has many positive effects on physical health, but did you know that resistance training is also a good tool to use for mental health as well?
Studies have shown that resistance training has had positive benefits on many mental health issues. Of the trials conducted, participants have seen reductions in anxiety symptoms, reduction in pain intensity among patients with lower back pain, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, improvements in cognition among older adults, improvements in sleep quality among depressed older adults, reductions in symptoms of depression among patients with diagnosed depression and fibromyalgia, reductions in fatigue symptoms, and improvements in self esteem.
Many of these things all seem connected. For example, weight training helps a patient sleep better which is going to lower ghrelin (the body’s hunger hormone). In turn, potentially causing them to reduce unnecessary snacking to help them lose a few pounds which could cause an improvement in self esteem. All of these things are interconnected in various different ways. Aside from all the mental health positives, resistance training also seems to have some built factors that help your overall approach to life a bit differently. Other than peace of mind and some self confidence, resistance training seems to also act as a wise janitor of life coming to teach you valuable life lessons and skills.
The first, stronger muscles make daily tasks easier. If your everyday tasks can be performed with less pain and more ease, the stress of completing them will drop. Plus, the confidence boost of feeling stronger and being more self reliant isn’t a bad side effect either. Unless of course you are a husband that takes pride in opening the pickle jar!
Second, let go with care. Hear me out! So when you lift weights, it’s important to perform both the eccentric and concentric motions with care and purpose in order to get the most out of the movement. It is simply key to proper performance. You should always use as much care to put down the weight as you did to pick it up. In life, when we are exhausted or overwhelmed by something, we often just cast it aside thoughtlessly and be done with it. Just give up. This will rarely serve you well.
Ah, yes, next up, the value of rest. When I design programs, I assign specific rest periods between sets. There is a reason for this. You need to give your central nervous system a break and allow it to regroup before jumping right back into a lift. This is often why rest periods are longer on programs with heavy compound lifts. They are more taxing to your CNS than lower weight accessory movements. So, how does this relate to life you ask . . . well, just like weight training, when you pause in other areas of your life instead of rushing through tasks as quickly as possible, you’ll find that you are more productive and more positive results will emerge. Often you just need to find the right balance between rest and work.
This one is another favorite of mine! The power of breath! Yes, breath. I know breathing is essential to life, but that’s not where I’m going with that. Those of you that have trained with me in person have probably heard me instruct you on how to breathe when you are lifting weights. It is very important for effective weight lifting to breathe properly. Generally speaking, you should be inhaling during the concentric and exhaling during the eccentric. This allows you to get maximal force in your lift. Similar effects can be seen during trying times in life. When you are feeling pressure or anxious, take a deep breath. Taking a few deep breaths will help you speak up, calm down and keep your cool much easier.
Last but not least, to build strong muscles, you must break them. Yep, that’s right. When you lift weights, you tear your muscles. That’s the point, because they come back bigger and stronger. (insert Hulk growl) Think about it. You experience muscle growth after you tear the muscles. So basically to make a muscle stronger you have to injure it. It’s through the process of repair it gets stronger. Think about the hardest moments in your life. Think about how much they hurt. Did you get through it? Are you stronger now because of it? I would bet that every challenge you’ve encountered in your life has made you stronger and that’s because with pain comes growth. That growth can be emotional too. After all the heart is a muscle too.
If I haven’t already spoken enough about the benefits of weight training, here’s just some more science backed evidence to show that resistance training literally can benefit everyone, in some way. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or a powerlifter that’s training for a show to see benefits. Everyone has something to gain.
If you’re ready to make a change in your life, but don’t know where to start, apply for a free coaching call. I’d love to be a part of your journey to a better life.
Kayli is a certified personal trainer and online coach that specializes in fitness, wellness, nutrition, mindset, mobility and everything in between.