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Strength Training May Alleviate Depression

Large study shows strong association between muscle strengthening and lower likelihood of depression.

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Strength training exercise and depression

With many people feeling stressed by the pandemic, it has become a priority to boost mental, as well as physical, health. Many studies substantiate the power of cardiovascular training to reduce the likelihood of depression and anxiety. New research shows that strength training, like aerobic exercise, may be an effective way to prevent or alleviate depression.

German and Australian researchers conducted a large, population-based study using data from the 2014 German Health Update. The study included a representative sample of 23,602 German adults and investigated any association between resistance training and depressive symptoms.

Data analysis showed that adults who participated in any type of muscle-strengthening exercises, from body-weight workouts to machine-based training, were less likely to experience depressive symptoms. This finding was the same whether people trained one to two times each week or three to five times weekly. The important take-home message? Lift weights.

The study appeared in the Journal of Affective Disorders (2020; 266, 282–87). To learn more about the connection between exercise and mental health, read “Train Yourself Happy.”



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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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