Resistance Training and Mental Health

Posted: May 27, 2014 at 5:49 pm

By: Anya Sailey

Strength training has been studied extensively in terms of its various physical health benefits; however the effects on mental health have not had the same exposure. This article addresses seven studies focusing on the benefits of strength training in terms of mental health. The key areas of mental health which are addressed include anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, cognition, sleep, and self-esteem.Resistance Training

Anxiety – Anxiety is a prevalent issue in American society, resulting in sleep disruptions, mental distress, bodily pain, poor health, and limitations to physical activity. Resistance training was found to serve as a meaningful intervention for those suffering from anxiety. Moderate-intensity levels of resistance training proved to be the most effective in the reduction of anxiety symptoms.

Cognition – Cognition allows a person to interpret learned information by processing and integrating it with existing knowledge. In healthy older adults, studies have shown that resistance training enhances cognition by improving memory and executive functioning.

Depression – Depression is another prevalent issue in American society, which results in feelings of hopelessness, mood disturbances, fatigue, lack of motivation, sleep problems, restlessness, agitation, and other mental and physical complications. Studies have shown that resistance training is linked to reduction in depression, although further investigation may be necessary to achieve conclusive results.

Chronic Fatigue – About 25% of the American population suffers from fatigue. Fatigue may negatively impact a person’s daily performance and mental health. Compared to medicinal or behavioral interventions Resistance training has consistently been found to be the best intervention for preventing and improving symptoms associated with chronic fatigue..

Self-Esteem – Self-esteem is a person’s evaluation of their personal worth. Resistance training has been proven to improve self-esteem in adults, particularly those who are mentally or physically ill.

Sleep – Sleep is an important part of recovery in terms of both physical and mental health. Consistent sleep deprivation results in cognitive impairment, mental illness, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, and sleepiness, and a diminished quality of life. Physically active individuals have healthier, more stable sleep patterns, and a reduced risk of sleep apnea

Resistance training can affect a person’s well-being both directly and indirectly: it may improve cognition and nervous system function, which can lead to an improved quality of life. Because of its positive effects on the mind and the body, resistance training should be incorporated into everyone’s workout routines and daily schedules. Stay tuned for next week’s in-depth discussion on how resistance training positively affects mental health!



Ramirez, A. (2012). Resistance training improves mental health. IDEA Fitness Journal for ACE Certified Professionals, 9 (1): 20-22.