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The One Exercise That Can Lift Your Spirits

The One Exercise That Can Lift Your Spirits

Just an hour a week of resistance training can improve your mind and body.

Humans have set some wacky—but impressive—weightlifting records: Most weight lifted using teeth? 620 pounds. Most weight lifted with the little finger? 242 pounds. And 182 pounds is the record weight lifted with an ear using a clamp.

We hope you’re not trying these risky forms of weightlifting. But if you’re not experimenting with some form of strength training, we suggest you give it a try. Not only has resistance/strength training been linked to better heart health and stronger muscles and bones, now a review shows there’s good evidence lifting weights and doing resistance exercise can lift your mood.

An international mix of researchers from Iowa State University, as well as Sweden and Ireland, reviewed more than 30 studies on resistance training, with 1,877 participants, and found this type of exercise was associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.

So, if you contend with anxiety, apathy, low mood or sadness, try resistance training. You can use your own body weight as resistance when doing squats, push-ups and planks or try stretchy tubes or bands that work arms, legs, glutes and more. If you do 20 to 30 minutes three days a week, you’ll begin to feel the mood-lifting benefits pretty quickly. Add 30 minutes of aerobics, like interval walking, five days a week and you’ll discover how powerful improved circulation, strength and coordination are when it comes to both physical and psychological well-being.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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