Regular exercise is a proven way to attain a healthy mind and body. Though there is enough documentation supporting the physical benefits of exercise, a recent meta-analysis established that a particular type of exercise can help improve mental health too. The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry in May 2018, found that resistance exercise training (RET) could significantly reduce the symptoms of depression, such as bad mood, feelings of worthlessness, and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
According to the authors, this is a first-of-its-kind study as the quantitative synthesis of the effects of RET have not been calculated prior to this. They analyzed 33 previously conducted clinical trials to draw the conclusion.
RET benefits people of all age groups and genders
The clinical trials analyzed by the researchers were conducted on more than 1,800 people across different age groups, gender and health status. While the effects of RET were not found to vary as per an individual’s age, gender, health status, specific exercise routine or physical strength, the training was found to be more effective in individuals with severe forms of depressive symptoms. This is because a higher level of improvement was observed in people with pre-existing signs of mild to moderate depression compared to those without any such scores, said lead author Brett Gordon, a postgraduate researcher in the department of physical education and sports sciences at Ireland’s University of Limerick.
The researchers found that a number of strength-training programs could help improve an individual’s mental health. In fact, supervised routines lasting for less than 45 minutes were found to have a major impact. Although Gordon denied mentioning any one specific exercise regimen that one can follow to attain a good mental health, he recommended following the guidelines provided by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) which state, “Strength training program should be performed a minimum of two non-consecutive days each week, with one set of eight to 12 repetitions for healthy adults or 10 to 15 repetitions for older and frail individuals. Eight to 10 exercises should be performed that target the major muscle groups.”
RET cannot substitute professional help
Exercise helps not only in strengthening bones and preventing the onset of chronic conditions, but also in improving blood flow to the human brain, triggering the release of mood enhancing chemicals like endorphins and enabling the development of new brain cells. This is the reason why RET may benefit an individual with depression just like antidepressants and behavioral therapies do. Still, RET is not a replacement for available treatment options for depression as it cannot cure the condition. However, the findings offer some hope, as the training is simple, affordable and can be easily done at home.
While the present study is only limited to analyzing the role of RET in curbing depressive symptoms, there have been studies that suggest the benefits of physical activities like aerobic exercise, cardio and yoga to improve one’s mental health. There is no doubt that the factors triggering depression are often complicated and it might not be an easy option for many to begin RET while already battling depression.
Treat depression for a better life
Depression is a chronic illness that must be treated at the earliest. Seeking professional help from a mental health rehab is important when self-help tips like staying positive and eating a healthy diet do not work.
Sovereign Health is one of the leading mental health treatment centers offering mental health treatment services across the U.S. Backed by trained staff ready to offer the requisite help 24/7, we ensure that you are able to overcome your illness and make your life better. For more details, call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with our admission counselor for immediate assistance.