According to a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, resistance training (i.e., lifting weights) at the gym may help reduce symptoms of depression (Hosie, 2018; Leipholtz, 2018).
The study was conducted by the University of Limerick in Ireland, and “. . . researchers examined thirty-three different clinical studies involving 1,877 people” (Leipholtz, 2018). According to an article in The Independent, researchers “. . . were aiming to discover whether resistance training had an effect on symptoms of depression such as feelings of worthlessness, experiencing low mood, and loss of interest in activities” (Hosie, 2018).
It was found that weight lifting helped improve the previously mentioned symptoms across all ages, sexes, health statuses, and exercise regimens. The study’s lead author, Brett Gordon, stated, “Interestingly, large improvements were found among adults with depressive symptoms indicative of mild-to-moderate depression compared to adults without such scores, suggesting [resistance exercise training] may be particularly effective for those with greater depressive symptoms” (Hosie, 2018; Leipholtz, 2018).
More research is needed to determine whether strength training is comparable to or as effective as medication or “other empirically supported treatments” (Hosie, 2018). Additionally, an article in Women’s Health about the study noted that researchers are unable to determine why strength training is linked to a decrease in symptoms of depression (Leipholtz, 2018).
Hosie, R. (2018). Mental health awareness week 2018: Lifting weights can reduce symptoms of depression, study finds. The Independent. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/depression-symptoms-weight-lifting-resistance-training-link-mental-health-awareness-week-2018-a8350546.html
Leipholtz, B. (2018). Can lifting weights ease depression symptoms? Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/can-lifting-weights-ease-depression-symptoms