The Impact of Weightlifting on Mental Health

The Impact of Weightlifting on MentalHealth

Mental Health By Mar 20, 2024

When it comes to the effect of resistance exercise on mental health, we can agree that it’s not just about “all muscles and no brains,” because from time immemorial, there has been scientific evidence to show that lifting weights also lifts your psychology. 

But hey, even without scientific reports, don’t you already feel so invincible after completing your lifts? Isn’t that enough for us to hail weights for giving our mental states a boost? 

If you can’t relate because you don’t lift weights, hurry and grab a barbell so you can also boast about being mentally untouchable. On that note, I’ll recommend that you get yourself acquainted with this Olympic weightlifting guide, the ultimate beginner guide to lifting weights like an Olympic champion. 

Now, are you ready to discover why mental health professionals and fitness experts recommend weightlifting for your psychological health? 

The Importance of Weight Training for Mental Health

From reducing depression to giving you better sleep and providing relief from anxiety, weightlifting is a shoulder for you to rely on when you’re seeking non-pharmacological methods of boosting your mental health. 

Not to mention that your self-esteem skyrockets and drags your discipline along with it while simultaneously improving your cognition. 

These are only some of the most important gifts your mental health gets from lifting weights, so hopefully you’re stirred to keep doing more in the gym. Now let’s look at some of these perks in detail.

What are the benefits of weightlifting for mental health?

Reduced levels of Depression

Perhaps at some point in your life, you have felt extremely sad and unmotivated, but a simple exercise just revived you. It could have been as simple as doing house chores, taking a walk, or biking. How much more could your mood be boosted when you task your body and do some reps?

Well, in a study at Jama Psychiatry involving 1877 participants in 33 clinical trials, researchers found that resistance exercise training significantly lowered depression, regardless of health status and strength improvement.

This means that the results of a significant mood improvement were independent of how muscular a participant was or their state of health. They simply needed to have done some weight training and completed the exercise for their moods to be elevated. Isn’t that impressive?

Better Sleep Quality

Insomnia isn’t new to most of us, and sometimes we suffer from disrupted sleep patterns, which could worsen the brain’s condition and impair normal functioning. Certainly, exercise is a proven way to improve your sleep schedule and enhance your quality of sleep, but lifting weights is a game changer. 

This survey, which assessed a sample size of 23,635 German adults, demonstrates it. Participants were asked to rank their sleep quality on a scale of 1-4, representing very poor, poor, fair, and good, respectively. During a typical week of weightlifting exercise, about 80.3% of participants said their sleep quality was either good or fair, showing a diminished population for those who reported ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ sleep.

In addition to this, the result seemed to be stable across increased rates of weightlifting, suggesting that there was no significant difference in sleep quality between those who lifted more and those who lifted only once.

Lowered anxiety and stress

A certain hormone in your body called cortisol (the stress hormone) is elevated when you’re under stress, even if the stress is from psychological sources. However, weightlifting can help lower the levels of cortisol, therefore reducing your stress levels.

At the same time, stretch training releases endorphins, or ‘feel good’ hormones, which are neurotransmitters that relieve anxiety and also reduce stress. Now you see that weightlifting also brings balance to your hormones and elevates your mood, which is one of the ways it boosts your mental health. 

How exactly does weightlifting improve your mental health?

While there’s room for scientific advancement on the direct correlation between weightlifting and mental health, we’ve seen that strength training modulates the release of hormones, which play a role in mood control and stress. 

In addition to this, a certain group of proteins called myokines are released from the muscles after lifting weights, which increase the creation of new brain cells, protect neurons from destruction, decrease inflammation, and maintain the levels of dopamine in the brain. 

Exercise also positively affects the brain’s ability to change and adapt, which therefore improves the brain’s cognitive ability. 


You’ve been convinced beyond doubt that a reliable way to lift your spirits and boost your esteem is to lift some weights, as you stand to gain a myriad of benefits from doing so. Trouble sleeping? Lift weights. Depressed? Lift weights. Of course, weightlifting does not in any way replace professional medical advice, but it could lower the intensity of your symptoms and your body will be grateful.


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