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How building muscle could help you fight depression

In addition to building muscle, lifting weights could also help improve your mental strength, according to a new study.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), claimed that resistance training – more commonly referred to as weightlifting – has been found to have positive benefit for those suffering with depression.

A meta-analysis of more than 1,800 participants, over 33 randomised clinical trials, showed a significant reduction in depressive symptoms, particularly in those whose depressive symptoms were classified as clinically mild or moderate.

Exercise has long been associated with many physical benefits, in addition to mental benefits through the release of the feel-good Endorphins hormone, but until now most of the documented research was focused on aerobic activities such as running.

This new research, focused on weightlifting exercises, showed a reduction in depression symptoms regardless of whether the participants put on muscle, or how healthy they were when they started training.

With over three million Australians currently living with depression or anxiety, according to mental health organisation Beyondblue, the findings may help bridge the gap between those suffering with mental health issues and a drug-free cure.

While there is no silver bullet for mental health issues such as depression, the research also found that sessions with a personal trainer were more effective in combating depression symptoms than working out alone.

What does this mean for those with mental health issues?

Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety stem from a variety of issues and reasons, with one in six women and one in eight men likely to suffer from depression at some point in their life, while only 35% of all sufferers are accessing treatment.

With many shunning openly talking about mental health issues, as well as avoiding treatments, hitting the gym may be an option for some.

Those who suffer from mental health issues, or may know someone who does, are encouraged to contact a mental health organisation, such as Beyondblue, Headspace or Mind.

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