Search icon

Fitness & Health

13th Jun 2018

Weight training can aid your mental health, studies show

Hitting the gym reduces symptoms of depression - regardless of how many sessions you partake in

Alex Roberts

The pros of hitting the gym go far beyond muscle size and strength

In the minds of many, there exists a tendency to immediately associate weight training with bodybuilding, and anyone who sets foot in the gym with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Hopefully, public perceptions could be set to change. Resistance training plays a pivotal role in combating depression, according to recent studies.

Strength-training can prove the difference between building bigger biceps or sporting a shredded torso, but not enough is made of the holistic advantages of hitting the gym.

The notion that resistance training exists purely as a vehicle for stepping on stage in a small pair of trunks is tired and wide-of-the-mark.

Its benefits are extensive and can improve your life in virtually every sense – not least, your mental health.

This is a fact emphasised by research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. This review looked at 33 clinical trials involving over 1800 people.

Strength training was found to significantly reduce symptoms of depression, regardless of individual health status. It also didn’t matter how much training was done; the benefits were clear irrespective of training volume.

If that wasn’t music to your gym-going ears already, levels of strength did not impact overall results. Your mental health can be improved whether you’re benching double your bodyweight, or just the bar.

What matters is that you become – and stay – active.

It should be stated that, while weight training is a useful tool for helping your mental health, it isn’t a cure. If you’ve been feeling low for a prolonged period of time, speak to your GP.

The CALM Zone also operate a free, confidential and anonymous helpline & webchat for anyone needing to discuss their mental health. Lines are open every day, 5pm-midnight: and can be contacted by phone on 0800 58 58 58. The Samaritans can also be contacted 24/7 on 116 123.