A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Limerick in Ireland and Iowa State University highlights the positive impact of resistance exercise training on the treatment of anxiety and depressive symptoms.

This new research not only reinforces the therapeutic advantages of resistance exercise training for anxiety and depression but also delves into potential underlying mechanisms. Published in the Trends in Molecular Medicine journal, the study was led by Professor Matthew P Herring from the University of Limerick and Professor Jacob D Meyer from Iowa State University.

The researchers are optimistic about the “exciting evidence” suggesting that resistance exercise training could serve as an accessible alternative therapy for improving anxiety and depression, similar to more established treatments, while simultaneously enhancing overall health.

Dr. Herring emphasized that anxiety and depressive symptoms pose significant public health challenges, and despite the well-established benefits of resistance exercise training, its potential impact on these mental health conditions remains insufficiently explored. The study proposes psychobiological mechanisms, such as increased insulin-like growth factor 1, cerebrovascular adaptations, and potential neural adaptations influenced by controlled breathing inherent to resistance exercise, to better comprehend the reasons behind the observed improvements.

While acknowledging the limitations of existing studies with relatively small sample sizes, the researchers argue that the available evidence, including their previous and ongoing research, supports the idea that resistance exercise training can indeed alleviate anxiety and depressive symptoms. They stress the need for confirmatory trials to address limitations and establish conclusive evidence.

The researchers are enthusiastic about the promising literature supporting resistance exercise training in mental health improvement. They see exciting potential in further exploring unknown mechanisms to maximize benefits and customize resistance exercise prescriptions through precision medicine approaches.

Co-author Professor Meyer sees this research as laying the groundwork for evaluating resistance training as a crucial behavioral treatment for depression and anxiety. He suggests that, due to its distinct mechanisms compared to aerobic exercise, resistance training could be used alone or in conjunction with aerobic exercise for a more comprehensive approach. Their future research aims to thoroughly assess these potential benefits in clinical populations and identify individuals most likely to benefit from resistance exercise.

Remember, if you need further guidance or support, don’t hesitate to reach out to your mental health professional or contact us for assistance.