Mental Health Awareness Week – Weight lifting and mental health

Picking up a dumbbell might have a positive effect on both your mind and your muscles

It’s not uncommon to hear stories of people improving their mental health by exercising, but a new study has found that resistance training in particular has a positive effect on the mind.

According to research by the University of Limerick, lifting weights is associated “with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.”

One of the reasons many people stick to strength training once they’ve tried it is because it’s so empowering, confidence-building and satisfying to see yourself progress.

The researchers analysed the results of 33 different clinical studies tracking a total of 1,877 people – they 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.

Postgraduate researcher Brett Gordon said: “Interestingly, larger improvements were found among adults with depressive symptoms indicative of mild-to-moderate depression compared to adults without such scores, suggesting RET [resistance exercise training] may be particularly effective for those with greater depressive symptoms.”

You needn’t jump straight into deadlifts if you’ve never lifted a dumbbell before though – Gordon recommends incorporating weight training into your workouts two days a week, doing eight to 12 reps of eight to 10 different exercises each time.


What are you doing to look after yourself this Mental Health Awareness Week? We’d love to hear from you. Send us an email at


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