Health & Well-Being

This type of exercise may help relieve depression

Strength training is good for your body and your mind, according to a new review of more than 30 previously published studies.

The paper, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that resistance exercise training (RET), such as weightlifting and strength training, is associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms. It also, of course, comes with physical benefits, like making bones stronger and preventing chronic conditions.

Brett Gordon, the paper’s first author and a postgraduate researcher in the department of physical education and sports sciences at Ireland’s University of Limerick, stops short of calling resistance training a cure for depression, but he says the findings are compelling, especially since it’s accessible, affordable and possible to do at home.

And it seems to work as well as the frontline treatments for depression — antidepressants and behavioral therapies — Gordon says in an email to TIME. Because the study was based on past research, however, it wasn’t possible to tell from this paper exactly why that might be the case, or to prove a definitive cause-and-effect relationship. But other research suggests that by increasing blood flow to the brain, exercise can change the structure and function of the brain, create new brain cells and trigger the release of mood-enhancing chemicals like endorphins.

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