A number of studies have established that exercise can prevent depression and reduce its symptoms, but new research has found that resistance training (RET) in particular is associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.
The review of more than 30 clinical studies – including nearly 2,000 people – discovered that weightlifting and strength training was linked to improvements in common symptoms of depression like low mood, a loss of interest in activities and feelings of worthlessness.
“Interestingly, larger improvements were found among adults with depressive symptoms indicative of mild-to-moderate depression compared to adults without such scores, suggesting RET may be particularly effective for those with greater depressive symptoms,” co-author Brett Gordon told TIME.
Experts say that working out increases blood flow to the brain and releases mood-boosting endorphins.
"In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression," Doctor Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explains.
However, pumping iron isn’t always enough when it comes to managing mental illness and understandably, those suffering from depression can struggle to find the motivation to start. Beginning with any form of regular movement is the way to go if you are worried about yourself or someone in your care, the best thing you can do is talk to someone.