HomeLifestyleHealth6 Mental Benefits Of Strength Training - From Brainpower To Stress Reduction

6 Mental Benefits Of Strength Training – From Brainpower To Stress Reduction

These 6 Mental Benefits Of Strength Training will influence your fitness decision. Engaging in strength training is not just about muscles and endurance. The science behind strength training’s impact on the brain is fascinating. When you engage in resistance training, your body responds by releasing myokines—proteins that help repair muscle tissue and have a positive effect on the brain. This process is not just about building muscles; it’s about fostering a healthy brain environment. So if you have tried out or intend to go for strength training it’s important to know the mental health benefits which include;

ALSO READ: Why Are So Many People Avoiding Therapy Despite the Growing Prevalence of Mental Health Issues?

6 Mental Benefits Of Strength Training - From Brainpower To Stress Reduction
6 Mental Benefits Of Strength Training – From Brainpower To Stress Reduction

1. Cognitive Enhancement

One of the most significant mental benefits of strength training is its ability to enhance cognitive functions. Research has demonstrated that incorporating strength training into your routine can lead to improvements in cognitive functions such as processing speed, memory, and executive function. These cognitive enhancements are not just limited to the gym; they translate into better performance in various aspects of life, including work, school, and daily tasks. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that tai chi, a form of strength training, showed potential to enhance cognitive function in older adults, particularly in areas such as executive function, which involves planning, working memory, attention, problem-solving, and verbal reasoning. This improvement may be attributed to the learning and memorization of new skills and movement patterns required in tai chi.

Exercise stimulates physiological changes in the body, encouraging the production of growth factors. These growth factors affect the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and the health of new brain cells. Studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in volume in people who exercise than in those who do not. Engaging in a regular exercise program of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions. Furthermore, exercise can boost memory and thinking indirectly by improving mood and sleep, and by reducing stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment. While most research has focused on walking, it is likely that other forms of aerobic exercise that get your heart pumping might yield similar benefits.

To reap the cognitive benefits of strength training, it’s recommended to establish exercise as a habit, aiming for a moderate intensity, such as brisk walking, for 150 minutes per week. Start with a few minutes a day and increase the amount by five or ten minutes every week until you reach your goal. It’s important to be patient as it takes about six months to start seeing the cognitive benefits of exercise.

2. Neuroprotective Effects

Strength training also has neuroprotective effects, protecting the brain from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By improving blood flow to the brain and reducing inflammation, resistance training helps preserve brain function and structure. A study involving 100 participants aged 55 and older with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) found that six months of resistance training resulted in neuroprotective benefits to Alzheimer’s disease-vulnerable parts of the hippocampus. This research underscores the potential of strength training to improve cognitive function in individuals with cognitive impairments, highlighting its role in preventing and positively impacting brain diseases.

Another study published in the journal Neuroscience Letters found that strength training had a protective effect on recent long-term social memory retention in rats with neuroinflammation. The study also found that strength training decreased the discriminative memory deficit in rats with monosodium glutamate-induced neuroinflammation.

These findings suggest that strength training may have neuroprotective effects, potentially protecting against neurodegeneration and improving cognitive function. The mechanisms behind these effects are not yet fully understood, but studies suggest that they may be related to the production of neurotrophins, such as BDNF and IGF-1, which are involved in processes related to memory and learning.

3. Mood Improvement

Strength training significantly improves mood. Research has shown that engaging in strength training can have a profound impact on reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, thereby improving overall mood. A meta-analysis of nine studies that analyzed the effects of different modes of strength intervention on depression levels found that training with various strength interventions had a large and significant effect on reducing anxiety levels. Of the eight studies that reported beneficial effects on depression levels after strength training, five showed a large effect size in the levels of depression.

Another research also highlights the potential of resistance training as a key behavioral treatment approach for depression and anxiety. It is suggested that resistance training works through shared and distinct mechanisms to achieve its positive mood effects compared to aerobic exercise, making it a promising approach for both standalone therapy and in conjunction with aerobic exercise.

4. Support Good Sleep

A systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that chronic resistance exercise significantly improves all aspects of sleep, with the greatest benefit observed for sleep quality. This improvement in sleep quality is a crucial aspect of overall health, as good sleep is essential for cognitive function, mood regulation, and physical health. The study also noted that the benefits of isolated resistance exercise are attenuated when resistance exercise is combined with aerobic exercise, suggesting that the type and intensity of exercise may influence sleep benefits.

While the acute effects of resistance exercise on sleep remain poorly studied and inconsistent, the chronic benefits are well-documented. This suggests that incorporating resistance exercise into your routine over a longer period may lead to more significant improvements in sleep quality and quantity.

5. Stress Reduction

When you engage in strength training, you are not just building muscle; you are also reducing stress levels. Research has shown that regular strength training can significantly lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress. A recent study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that individuals who incorporated strength training into their routine experienced a 20% reduction in perceived stress levels compared to those who did not. By lifting weights, you are not only strengthening your body but also lifting the weight of stress off your mind.

6. Enhanced Self-Esteem

One of the most empowering mental benefits of strength training is the boost it gives to your self-esteem and confidence. As you progress in your strength training journey and witness your body getting stronger, you also experience a sense of accomplishment and self-assurance. Research has shown that individuals who engage in regular strength training report higher levels of self-esteem and confidence. A published study found that women who participated in a strength training program experienced significant improvements in body image and self-esteem. So, remember that every rep you lift is not just building muscle; it’s also building your self-belief.

Recommended Duration For Strength Training For Mental Health

The recommended duration for strength training for mental health is not explicitly revealed by experts. However, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that individuals perform resistance training on 2 or more days per week in order to achieve health benefits.

Additionally, a study published in ScienceDirect states that 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity is recommended for mental health benefits, but it does not specify the recommended duration for strength training specifically.

A study published in the Mayo Clinic suggests that “significant improvement in strength can be achieved with just two or three 20- or 30-minute strength training sessions a week.”

In conclusion, the recommended duration for strength training for mental health may be similar to that for physical health benefits. It is important to note that the exact recommended duration for strength training for mental health may vary depending on factors such as individual fitness levels, goals, and health conditions.

It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert for personalized advice on strength training duration and frequency for mental health benefits.

FAQs About Mental Benefits of Strength Training

Q: Can strength training help with anxiety and depression?
A: Strength training has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. By engaging in regular strength training, you can experience improvements in mood and overall mental well-being. Remember, exercise is a powerful tool in managing mental health, so don’t hesitate to incorporate strength training into your routine.

Q: How often should you engage in strength training for mental health benefits?
A: For optimal mental health benefits, aim to engage in strength training at least 2-3 times per week. Consistency is key, so make sure to stick to a regular routine to experience the full mental advantages of strength training. Remember, every session you complete is a step towards a healthier body and mind.

Q: Are there specific types of strength training exercises that are more beneficial for mental health?
A: While all forms of strength training can offer mental health benefits, compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are particularly effective. These exercises engage multiple muscle groups and require focus and coordination, which can enhance cognitive function and boost mood. Remember to mix up your routine to keep things interesting and maximize the mental benefits of strength training.

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