How to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
During the work day there are many ways to react when things get crazy and stress builds up. You can call someone and complain, reach for a substance (food, alcohol, medication) to comfort yourself, or do nothing and let your body bear the brunt of unresolved stress. Any of these responses could add to feelings of depression and anxiety. Try a different approach: discover how to relieve stress and anxiety with a simple weight lifting routine.
Benefits of Resistance Training
Resistance exercise training helps reduce symptoms of depression. That seems to be true regardless of the amount of time spent training or the actual increase in muscle strength achieved. One study found that lifting weights twice a week led to a remission of depression roughly equal to taking antidepressant medications.
I observed how weight training lifted the depression of my father a few years ago. He was bereft and grief-stricken after the death of my mother, his beloved companion of fifty-eight years. My brother gave him a membership to a local gym, and advised him to start lifting weights. Within a few months his spirits were brighter and he felt proud of his new-found strength. You can see him here at age eighty-five. He looks sharp, doesn’t he?
Right now you may not be able to go to a fitness center to lift weights. When I’m working from home I use a set of hand weights for a five-minute routine of arm lifts that releases tension in my neck and shoulders, and gives me a wonderful stress break during the work day.
Here I Am Working with a Personal Trainer to Learn How to Relieve Stress and Anxiety with Resistance Training
We honed a five-minute routine with hand weights that I do as a break from work. It has been a good routine for me, but you should consult your physician before embarking on an exercise program. Follow his/her directions.
If you decide to use weights and don’t have any hiding in a closet or a dusty shelf in your garage, start with small weights. One, two, or three pounds are examples you might choose, but seek clearance from your physician first. Gradually increase the heft of your weights as you get stronger.
When I first started lifting weights and was not sure what size to start with, I used one- or two-pound cans of vegetables from the pantry as weights! We all have canned food at home, right?
Evidence That Resistance Training Helps Depression and Anxiety
Gordon, et al. Association of resistance exercise training with depressive syptoms: Meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis of randomized clinical trials. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.0572
Herring, et al. Feasibility of exercise training for the short-term treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: a randomized controlled trial. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/327898
I also wrote about how to relieve stress and anxiety through exercise in a blog in 2018: https://deborahrankinrd.com/when-exercise-feels-good-youll-be-happier/ Back then I described how I feel happier when I exercise several times a week. I think you will too.
When pressures and difficulties build up it’s important to have a healthy way to release them. Otherwise, chronic stress can lead to health problems like weight gain, insomnia, high blood pressure, and increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. More importantly, negative stress will keep you from enjoying the pleasures of daily life. I made a simple quiz that will reveal signs that your stress is building and might be leading you to burn out and discouragement. This quiz is short, and free; you can find it here:
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© 2020 Deborah Rankin RD