Elevate your Mood: Why Fitness is Crucial for Mental Wellbeing

Adam Inkpen Talks Core Strength

Iron Therapy


Take a moment and imagine this: You are weight training, you hear the clink of weights, and you observe the determined faces, and the triumphant grins as personal bests are shattered. But wait, there’s more to this gym tale than just muscle gains. Enter the realm of resistance training, where the iron not only strengthens the body but also uplifts the mind. In this article, join us on a journey through the complex world of strength training as we explore its remarkable impact on mental health. However, we wanted to hear from our own first to understand this subject better, so we asked our valued clients, Rick, 63 years old, Carolynn, 77 years old and Tanis, 61 years old, Tara, 43 years old to explore their connection between strength training and mental health:

Q&A: Exploring the Connection Between Fitness and Mental Health

  1. Why do you work out and why do you continue to do it?

Rick: I engage in regular exercise, which helps keep me in good physical shape and is a powerful tool for relieving stress and maintaining emotional well-being.

Carolynn: I engaged in my workout plan earlier this year because I have issues with balance and strength in my legs etc. I use a cane for stability when I am out and about – uneven surfaces, curbs with ice and snow, stairs without railings, etc. I will continue with this workout plan for as long as it takes and probably longer. I am in for the long haul.

Tanis: I work out because I want to regain my strength after an injury and because I believe it’s the way to fight the adverse aspects of aging. I continue to work out because it’s working. There is no sign of my injury, and I’m seeing the improvement in my body. I also feel stronger, happier and that I am aging more gracefully.

Tara: I work out because it allows me to have “me” time. I am fully responsible for my mind and body, and I love the feeling of working on my strength and feeling a sense of accomplishment at the end of a workout.

  • What is the difference in how you feel walking into a training session and when you leave?

Rick: When I walk into a training session, I often feel a mix of anticipation and determination. Walking out, I feel refreshed, hopefully with a sense of accomplishment and energized to take on the day.

Carolynn: I can only speak about one training facility as One on One is the only one, I know. I feel welcome every time I enter the door. The facility is small, which some might not think is important but is SUPER important. Intimacy of space allows for focus on self and on trainer and not on anyone else. I do not even know if there are others in the facility when I am there. And this gets me to the mental health question: intimacy and focus are healthy – there is no big room filled with tons of big equipment and other people to whom you would ultimately compare yourself. This is not a comparison game – this is a personal game – you and your body – you and your trainer. Good mental health. Small space, big results. Every time I leave, I feel like I have accomplished something.

Tanis: When I walk into a training session, I am usually agitated or cranky or distressed in some way. I’m usually feeling stressed. By the time I’m done with my session, I’m more relaxed, and I have an upbeat, positive attitude. I feel strong and confident.

Tara: Some days, I have to force myself to get to the training session and work through whatever issues of the day I’m carrying with me. I’m often bringing in stress and frustration, but there are times when I’m excited to show up. But no matter what I bring with me, I leave 100% of the time satisfied, knowing that I did something for myself. I’m one step closer to my goals because I completed a session, and that sense of accomplishment adds a lot of positivity to my day.

  • What are your thoughts about fitness and mental health?

Carolynn: I think a healthy feeling about fitness translates to self-confidence. This is not about being slim and trim (although it could be) – this is about feeling your very best. Each workout is moving toward self-confidence and away from comparison. Comparison with others should be a concept kept in the rear-view mirror.

Rick: For me, there’s a 100% direct connection. The more I do it consistently, the better I feel, see the tangible results, and sense of accomplishment. It’s not just about physical appearance; it’s about feeling strong, capable, and accomplished.

Tanis: Human beings are meant to move, but so many of us are not as physically active as our bodies need us to be. That lack of activity has a negative effect on our brains and our mental health. Fitness is key to strong mental health.

Tara: Over the last few years, I’ve struggled with mental health, especially during COVID when I lost my fitness routine. I saw my mental health deteriorating, and the more my physical health went, the worse. My doctor prescribed an antidepressant, but it felt like a Band-Aid solution and didn’t address my physical health issues. I took matters into my own hands, which involved hiring the personal training team at One-on-One fitness. I’ve only been going to the gym for a short time, but immediately, I feel 100% back to myself mentally. I’m happier, have more energy, and feel accomplished, greatly uplifting my confidence and self-esteem. My family has noticed these positive changes in such a short period, which is truly amazing!

Our findings

From this exploration, it’s evident that Rick, Carolynn, Tanis and Tara find immense value in their workout routines beyond physical fitness. Rick highlights the direct correlation between consistent exercise and his emotional well-being, emphasizing the sense of accomplishment and strength it brings. On the other hand, Carolynn’s journey stems from a need for balance and strength due to physical challenges. Still, she finds solace in the intimate setting of her training facility, emphasizing the importance of focusing on self-improvement rather than comparison. Tanis finds that regular workouts yield visible improvements in strength and foster a sense of happiness and graceful aging. Tara found that fitness improved her mental health substantially and ditched her antidepressants.  

Their stories highlight the transformative power of fitness on mental health. Whether it’s the boost in self-confidence, a sense of accomplishment, feeling happy, or the focus on personal growth, each individual shows how resistance training can also uplift the mind. Their experiences highlight the profound connection between fitness and mental well-being, driving home the idea that a holistic approach to health encompasses both the body and the mind.

What does the evidence state?

Okay, so our members indicated a strong connection; however, what does the evidence say? Well, resistance training, also known as strength training or weightlifting, has been shown to have significant positive effects on mental health, particularly in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression:

  • Numerous studies have found that resistance training can significantly decrease depressive symptoms in both clinical and non-clinical populations.124 The antidepressant effects appear to be significant and consistent across different subgroups.
  • A meta-analysis of 33 clinical trials concluded that resistance exercise training significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults, regardless of their health status or the total volume of training prescribed.4 The effects were seen even when there were no significant strength gains.
  • Resistance training has also been associated with reduced symptoms of anxiety. 2 A meta-analysis of 16 studies involving 992 participants found that resistance training can effectively reduce anxiety symptoms. 2
  • Potential mechanisms for mental health benefits include increased self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment, improved cognition and executive functioning, and physiological changes in the brain. 23
  • Resistance training has been shown to improve brain cognition, memory, and executive functioning, which are often impaired in individuals with depression and anxiety disorders.3

In a nutshell, mounting research supports the efficacy of resistance training as a non-pharmacological intervention for improving mental health outcomes, particularly in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.1234 What’s fascinating is that these psychological benefits stem from physiological and psychological mechanisms.


Rick, Carolynn, Tanis and Tara show us that being fit isn’t just about muscles—it’s good for your mind too. Rick feels great after workouts because they help him beat stress and feel accomplished. Carolynn faces physical challenges but finds comfort in her gym, where she focuses on improving herself and not comparing herself to others—Tanis’s emotional journey shifts from agitation to relaxation and positivity. Tara boosts her confidence, energy levels and overall happiness. Studies back them up, showing that lifting weights can help fight anxiety and depression by boosting confidence and brainpower. So, working out doesn’t just build muscles; it also creates a strong mind.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8471285/
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/weightlifting-depression-anxiety-help/2020/09/01/d1036794-e882-11ea-bc79-834454439a44_story.html
  3. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/RTandMentalHealth.html
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137526/

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