Mental Health Benefits of Strength Training in Adults
This review summarizes evidence from randomized controlled trials to examine whether strength training influences anxiety, chronic pain, cognition, depression, fatigue symptoms, self-esteem, and sleep. The weight of the available evidence supported the conclusion that strength training is associated with reductions in anxiety symptoms among healthy adults (5 trials); reductions in pain intensity among patients with low back pain (5 trials), osteoarthritis (8 trials), and fibromyalgia (4 trials); improvements in cognition among older adults (7 trials); improvements in sleep quality among depressed older adults (2 trials); reductions in symptoms of depression among patients with diagnosed depression (4 trials) and fibromyalgia (2 trials); reductions in fatigue symptoms (10 trials); and improvements in self-esteem (6 trials). The evidence indicates that larger trials with a greater range of patient samples are needed to better estimate the magnitude and the consistency of the relationship between strength training and these mental health outcomes. Plausible social, psychological, and neural mechanisms by which strength training could influence these outcomes rarely have been explored. This review revealed the high-priority research need for animal and human research aimed at better understanding the brain mechanisms underlying mental health changes with strength training.