Depression is a serious problem all around the world, and it is no different here in Ireland, which ranks second only to Iceland as the Western World’s most depressed nation. More worrying perhaps is that just 10% of depressed Irish women will likely report their condition. The reluctance is unsurprising, especially considering the prevailing stigma associated with this mental health issue. But this should not be the case as there are plenty of interventions that can help.
One such intervention that is becoming quite popular in Ireland is weight training. More and more women are now going to the gym to lift weights in an effort to fight depression.
But how exactly can weight training help women fight depression?
Let’s begin with the obvious: Weight training is exercise. As we covered in a previous post, there is strong evidence explaining the relationship between exercise and improved mental health, with a study by Bibble and Asare (2011) reporting that exercise reduces anxiety and boosts self-esteem. There are caveats, though, as our post notes, but the impact of exercise on depression is largely undeniable, especially if done on a consistent basis.
Weight training according to the Huffington Post, releases endorphins that alleviate depression. These endorphins are the same chemicals that are secreted in considerable amounts when you do cardio or perform low-impact exercises like yoga and swimming. These endorphins are also responsible for the so-called runner’s high, the exercise after-effect that makes workout warriors and runners feel good right after a workout. Feeling good and a positive attitude is vital to fighting depression.
Here on Life and Fitness Mag we stated in a December 2015 post that exercise is great at reducing stress. It helps relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body, and the best part is that “any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever.”
Weight training boosts a woman’s self-esteem in a variety of ways. It is very easy to measure progression as they move from lighter weights to heavier loads. Even a small increase can be a big confidence booster. The same holds true when a woman sees the fruits of her labour taking shape—a leaner and fitter look, for instance, or slimmer abs, and a toned physique. Simply feeling stronger can have the same effect as well. This confidence boost, in turn, enhances one’s mental health.
Then again, not all women want do weight training for one reason or another, and that is perfectly fine as there are many alternatives that have the same effect on depression. Scottish comedian Susan Calman fought off depression through dancing, when she joined Strictly Come Dancing last year. Calman and her partner, Kevin Clifton, fell short in the competition, but the experience proved therapeutic for the 43-year-old Glasgow native, who told Entertainment Daily that the show improved her confidence. “I’m a great believer in exercise helping depression,” Calman said, before adding that she hoped that she had inspired others. “I’m kind of doing it to show you can put yourself out there and you can have fun doing it.”
Depression, ultimately, is not some unconquerable mountain. It can be overcome, and seeking help should always be a priority. One positive step in fighting depression is through exercises like weight training.