Resistance training for depression and anxiety: It works

dDetails matter. Your therapist may recommend a radical change in your diet. But if specific details are left out, depression and anxiety will remain there. The same applies to exercise, so let’s talk about resistance training…

You can use your body weight to do push-ups, squats, and more. And if you work out at home, you can use things like gallon water jugs…

If you’ve been around mood and anxiety for a while, you know that exercise is good for what ails us.

It’s been part of my “all hands on deck” help regimen for decades.


During a recent online research trip, the title of this article caught my attention: “UL Research Confirms Benefits of Resistance Exercise Training in Treating Anxiety and Depression.” Bam!

It was a press release announcing the results of a new study, published in the journal Trends in molecular medicineconducted by Professor Matthew P. Herring of the University of Limerick and Professor Jacob D. Meyer of Iowa State University.

The study provides evidence supporting the benefits of resistance exercise training on anxiety and depression. It also provides an examination of possible underlying mechanisms.

Let’s do it…

Resistance training for depression and anxiety.

Drs. Herring and Meyer stated that there was “exciting evidence” that resistance exercise training (we will call it resistance training: RT) may be an accessible alternative therapy to improve anxiety and depression, like more established therapies, and at the same time improve other important aspects of health. .

According to Dr. Herring…

Anxiety and depression symptoms and disorders are prevalent and debilitating public health burdens for which successful treatment is limited.

The health benefits of resistance exercise training, or muscle strengthening exercises that involve exerting force against a load repeatedly in order to generate a training response, are well established.

It’s frustrating that good and promising news remains understudied, especially when it comes to the how and why.

Before we continue with the investigation, let’s learn a little about RT…

What is resistance training?

Resistance training – no gym required

RT (also known as strength or weight training) is a form of exercise intended to increase muscular strength and endurance using, uh, resistance. And that resistance can be provided by weights, bands, and even our own body weight working against gravity.

RT is typically used to facilitate joint stability, weight control, increased muscle size, muscular endurance, strength, and power. And now we can add relief from depression and anxiety to the list.

The best thing is that you can do RT at the gym or at home.


Let yourself go by investing in bars, dumbbells, resistance bands, etc. But you know what? You can use your body weight to do push-ups, squats, and more.

And if you work out at home, you can use things like gallon water jugs, soup cans in a duffel bag, or a backpack with an unopened bag of flour. Be creative, have fun.

Before you begin, be sure to research the details of the workout so you can find the best fit. And yes, consult your doctor.

Details and results of the study.

As we begin, Drs. Herring and Meyer acknowledge that the available studies focus on relatively small sample sizes.

However, they emphasize that previous and ongoing work at their universities provides sufficient evidence to suggest that RT improves anxiety and depression symptoms and disorders (although the disorders are rarely studied).

Herring sweetens the situation by claiming that RT’s calming impact on depression and anxiety can be attributed in part to its influence on insulin-like growth factor, cerebrovascular adaptations, and possible neural adaptations generated by breathing. controlled inherent to RT.

Dr. Herring…

A more interesting aspect is that there is substantial promise in investigating the unknown mechanisms that may underlie these benefits to get us closer to maximizing the benefits and optimizing the prescription of resistance exercise through precision medicine approaches.

Be sure to click on the link for precision medicine – cool stuff.

Finally, taking aerobic exercise into account, Herring and Meyer note that RT likely achieves its positive effects on depression and anxiety through distinct and shared mechanisms.

That means RT has the potential to be used alongside aerobic exercise or as a stand-alone therapy.

Much more to come from Drs. Herring and Meyer, I’m sure.

All hands on deck

I adopted my “all hands on deck” depression and anxiety relief regimen years ago. Hey, it’s legal, it doesn’t cause harm, and it can help. I’m in.

If we’re on the same page and you can physically tolerate exercise, why not consider resistance training? Works.

Be sure to check out UL’s press release, which includes a link to the study: “UL Research Confirms Benefits of Resistance Exercise Tracking in Treating Anxiety and Depression.”

Thanks to Verywell Fit and author Nicole M. LaMarco for “What is resistance training and why is it important?“Lots of great information if you really want to learn.

And, of course, those inspirational articles and information on mental and emotional health from Chipur.

Bill White is not a doctor and provides this information for educational purposes only. Always contact your doctor if he has questions, advice or recommendations.

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