Strength training, also known as resistance training, is a form of exercise that involves the use of resistance, such as bodyweight or resistance bands, to increase muscle strength and endurance. While strength training is commonly associated with physical health benefits, recent research suggests that it can also have positive effects on mental health, specifically anxiety.
Anxiety is a common mental health disorder characterized by feelings of fear, worry, and nervousness. It can interfere with daily activities and negatively impact quality of life. While anxiety can be treated with medication and therapy, exercise has also been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety.
Here are some of the positive effects of strength training on anxiety:
- Reduced Symptoms of Anxiety
Strength training has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety in both clinical and non-clinical populations. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that resistance training significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety in women with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Another study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that resistance training was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety in healthy adults.
- Increased Self-Esteem
Strength training can also improve self-esteem, which can help reduce anxiety symptoms. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that resistance training improved self-esteem in older adults. Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that strength training improved self-esteem in women with breast cancer.
- Improved Sleep
Sleep disturbances are common in individuals with anxiety disorders. Strength training has been shown to improve sleep quality in both clinical and non-clinical populations. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that resistance training improved sleep quality in older adults. Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that strength training improved sleep quality in women with fibromyalgia.
- Increased Endorphins
Strength training has been shown to increase levels of endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the brain that can improve mood and reduce anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that resistance training increased endorphin levels in healthy adults.
Strength training is a safe and effective form of exercise for individuals with anxiety disorders. It can be performed in a variety of settings, including gyms, homes, and outdoor spaces. It is important to start with a light weight and gradually increase the weight as strength improves.
In conclusion, strength training has numerous positive effects on anxiety, including reducing symptoms of anxiety, improving self-esteem, improving sleep quality, and increasing endorphins. Incorporating strength training into a daily routine can be an effective way to manage anxiety symptoms.
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Ströhle, A. (2009). Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of Neural Transmission, 116(6), 777–784. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-008-0092-x
Brand, R., & Ekkekakis, P. (2018). Affective–Reflective Theory of physical inactivity and exercise. German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research, 48(1), 48–58. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12662-017-0471-0
Otto, M. W., & Smits, J. A. J. (2011). Exercise for mood and anxiety: Proven strategies for overcoming depression and enhancing well-being. Oxford University Press.
Mikkelsen, K., Stojanovska, L., Polenakovic, M., Bosevski, M., & Apostolopoulos, V. (2017). Exercise and mental health. Maturitas, 106, 48–56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.201