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Of course, any kind of movement benefits you mentally and physically, but according to new research, weightlifting may be the most beneficial type of exercise in treating depression.

While there is significant research on the physical health gains from cardio, this review published in JAMA Psychiatry is one of the first comprehensive reviews that explores strength training’s antidepressant effects.

Sure, strength training has been linked to improved sleep and even decreased levels of anxiety, but little has the direct link between strength training and depression been studied. Repeated exposure to the outdoors is also said to help.

The review features feedback from various randomised trials, which included participants of several health profiles. Researchers found 54 effects derived from the 33 experiments that demonstrated the positive spin-off of strength training on depressive symptoms.

One primary focus of the study was to determine whether or not factors like amount of exercise, gender, or age influenced the outcome. The research showed that the size of the weights had little to no impact on mental health and that older participants experienced the same decrease in symptoms as younger participants.

The best news? You don’t need to be buff to experience the benefits. The study concluded that more strength did not correlate with less depression, so to speak. All that mattered was showing up and giving it your best.

Though the review can’t quite pinpoint how exercise influences mental health, it’s clear that leaning into some resistance can perhaps help in more ways than not.

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