Five Minutes to Firmer Arms and Calmer Mood

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?

This is a picture of a spry eight-five year old man who learned how to relieve stress and anxiety by lifting weights.

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, here’s an Amazon affiliate link for a set of three different sizes:

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?

You can use canned foods and learn how lifting weights helps relieve stress and anxiety.


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: http://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.

Chronic Stress

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: 


If you find this information helpful, or want to invite a friend to be your weight-training buddy, please share this post with them with the buttons below.

© 2020 Deborah Rankin RD

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

2 thoughts on “Five Minutes to Firmer Arms and Calmer Mood”

  1. Thank you Deb, we can all use a stress reliever. Good to see you and the wonderful picture of your dad.
    God Bless.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More from the Blog

Four Ways to Overcome Holiday Stress

Overcome holiday stress this year by choosing what gets your attention. When I wrote my Christmas letter this year I celebrated five wonderful highlights of 2020. From this year of pandemic, I want to remember the hilarity (and terror) of being a cross-country truck driver for two days, the incomparable joy of holding a new

Ideas for Family Meals

Ideas for Family Meals It’s a busy time of  year. Perhaps you’ve come home from summer travel, your children are starting back to school, or you’re returning to your three jobs of parent, worker, and home virtual teaching assistant. If you haven’t yet set up a weekly grocery order for automatic delivery or pick up,

How many calories do I need?

When people find out I am a registered dietitian with degrees in nutrition, they often ask me “How many calories do I need?” For years, I struggled to find a good answer. “It depends” seems evasive. A generic response such as “between 1600 and 2400 calories for women, 2000 to 3000 for men” is well,

Feeling entrepreneurial burnout

Burnout: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

In fall of 2013 I led a sales team of seven people, traveled half the time for work, managed eighteen million dollars of business to exceed our sales goal by ten percent, finished the first draft of my novel, scheduled round-the-clock caregivers for my dying father, helped him plan his funeral, and bicycled 55 miles


Are you at risk for burnout?

Take this quick quiz to discover habits that may be leading you to burnout.

We respect your privacy. Your email will never be sold or given to a third party.