Resistance training’s benefits go way beyond building big muscles: A new scientific paper demonstrates it might also be a great treatment for depression.

The mental health condition has far-reaching impacts: it’s estimated 1 million Australians have depression in any one year, and around one in six will experience it at some point in their lives.

Depression is commonly treated via medication or psychotherapy, but these can be either costly, slow to work, or (for some) ineffective – so investigators are on the hunt for other complementary treatments.

One of those is exercise, which is such a well-established weapon against depression that any psychologist or mental health professional you consult is first likely to ask you about your physical activity.

A team led by Ireland’s University of Limerick specifically set out to examine the effect of resistance training, which is pretty much anything that builds and strengthens your muscles and their power – lifting weights is the best known example, but it also includes bodyweight exercises, resistance bands and machines.

– Sam Downing

Read more: Resistance Training Could Be Powerful Weapon Against Depression

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