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5 Mental Health Benefits to Weightlifting

It seems like everyone is always talking about the benefits of cardio, but what about strength training? The truth is that a good weight-lifting workout can have just as many health benefits as a long run, especially when it comes to mental health. So if you're trying to pick a new workout that supports your mind and body, consider these benefits of weight lifting.

1.) Improves Mood

Whether you're doing a giant set workout or easy sets to tone your muscles, weight lifting can help boost your mood. As you exercise, your body releases "happy chemicals," such as endorphins and serotonin in large amounts. You essentially flood your body with joy and it sticks around even after you're done.

A unique way strength training improves your mood is by allowing you to set and work toward goals. The simple act of planning your workouts, setting weight goals and watching yourself achieve them can be a huge mood booster. It helps you build confidence in yourself and promotes healthy self-esteem.

2.) Promotes the Mind-Body Connection

All of the distractions and technology in our world have made it easy to connect with others, but difficult to connect with yourself. Most people no longer have the intimate connection to their bodies they need to be healthy. Weight lifting can help to restore that connection.

In strength training, you have to listen to your body. Its reactions to the different exercises are what guide you in choosing weight limits, the number of reps and more during your workout. This allows you to practice responding to your body's needs and acknowledging when it's asking something more (or less) of you.

You can use these skills in everyday life too. For example, if you notice you're beginning to feel anxious, you can slow down and take deep breaths to prevent a panic attack.

3.) Eases Anxiety and Depression

This benefit goes back to those happy chemicals we mentioned earlier. The harder you train, the more endorphins your brain releases into your body. Not only do these help you feel happy and satisfied, but they also combat cortisol.

Cortisol is the body's stress hormone, responsible for making you feel nervous, anxious or just out of sorts. It can even build up in your body so you keep feeling worse and worse until you find a way to burn it off. Endorphins, however, are kind of like a cortisol cleanup crew. They push cortisol out of the body so it can't have negative effects on your mental or physical health.

4.) Helps Cognitive Function

Not only does weight lifting help you feel happier, but it can also improve your brain function! Studies have shown that strength training boosts brain activity and particularly helps with memory. If you're memorizing lengthy or complicated workouts every day you go to the gym, it's no wonder this is a main benefit!

Strength training can especially help older individuals maintain their cognitive functions. Scientists believe that this type of exercise bolsters the body's production of neuroprotective materials and reduces dangerous inflammation that can cause serious cognitive disorders later in life. Plus, weight lifting promotes the growth of new brain cells, so you'll never run out of gray matter.

5.) Supports Your Self-Image

Some people struggle to love the way they look. This can lead to them being overcritical of their bodies and feeling depressed or developing low self-esteem. Strength training can change all of that.

It doesn't take long to start seeing gains when you lift weights, and the quicker you notice results the better you'll feel about your efforts. The more muscles you develop and the goals you meet, the better you'll feel about yourself and your body.

Lifting weights is a great way to exercise, especially if you're not one for cardio. There are tons of mental and physical health benefits that come with weight lifting and other forms of strength exercises. 

About The Author

stash member Vincent Stokes

Vincent Stokes is an outdoor enthusiast and an experienced world traveler. He also writes writes for the National Parks and works to promote pride in homegrown travel destinations. (@TravelingGlobal)