Strength training has impressive positive effects on the body, but did you know it helps overcome depression and is great for the brain too? Although we tend to think of strength training as strictly physical, its mental benefits are just as valuable and even more astonishing. Here are just a few of the mental benefits of strength training!
I mentioned in Part I that I hold strength training close to my heart. That's because I truly feel it helped me as a Soldier (and as a human) returning from a war zone. I was first introduced to strength training in Iraq, and it forever changed my life. So when a study in 2011 found that vigorous activity is significantly associated with decreased odds of PTSD symptoms, it proved what I already knew: how beneficial strength is to all people.
Maybe you haven't been to a war zone or suffered any serious psychological problems in the past, but no one can turn down an increased positive mood, right? With strength training, we can all be a little happier!
Another common problem today is depression, which is considered the #1 psychological disorder in the Western world and is growing in all age groups. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, strength training is a good way to overcome depression, as it's proven to be effective in decreasing symptoms of depression.
While searching for real-world examples of the benefits of strength training, I stumbled across one involving law enforcement officers. I know images of Baltimore, Ferguson, and Cleveland might come to mind, and I don't mean to get political or blame anyone for these issues, but being a federal law enforcement officer myself, it's worth knowing how much strength training helps in hectic and crazy situations.
According to one study, aside from increased strength and cardiovascular fitness, officers also demonstrated significant improvements in mood, increased job satisfaction, and decreases in somatization, anxiety, overcome depression, and hostility. In comparison, those who dropped out showed “signs of significantly greater anxiety, depression, and hostility” thus suggesting that weight training may bring a lot of important psychological benefits.
Here's another problem I think we've all struggled with at some point, and which is probably one of the main reasons we've looked into fitness and training in the first place: body image. The way we see ourselves carries over into everything we do—how we walk, how we talk, what we achieve—and that has a major impact on all aspects of our lives.
Through strength training, we can improve our emotional well-being and self-image. A better body image means more self-esteem, which can lead to greater achievements in our lives!
Believe it or not, researchers in Brazil and Japan have found that adding weights to the tails of mice or having them run on weighted wheels helped increase memory, IQ, and genetic activity in their brains. On top of that, more research is emerging that suggests typical aerobic exercises aren't enough; strength training is a much more effective approach to living a healthier and happier life!
Having trouble sleeping? Most people I know aren't aware of the great benefits of sleep or simply don't care about the problems caused by a lack of sleep. But research has found that strength training can have a positive influence on your sleep. Essentially, by strength training, you'll sleep better!
The mental benefits of strength training are just as important to a healthy lifestyle as its physical benefits. So if you're on the fence about training, remember that it's not just for your body; your brain will be getting a great workout too!
Have you felt the mental benefits of strength training? How has it improved your life? Share your experience in the comments below, and be sure to share this article with your friends!
Jay Kali AKA, The Strength Architect is the founder of Kali Coaching. He holds certifications as a Specialist in Strength and Conditioning, Certified Fitness Trainer, Online Trainers Academy Graduate, Training For Warriors Level 2 Graduate and is a 300-Certified Yoga Teacher in Power Yoga. He is also an Amazon Bestselling Author in four different categories and has made it his mission to help women create long lasting, healthy lifestyles in just 8 weeks!