Lifting Weights, Lifting Spirits
Shot of endorphins anyone?
If you’re not already familiar with endorphins, these little fellas are naturally-occurring brain fodder that relieve stress and makes you feel like a million dollars. Some days it may feel as though your endorphins are defunct. For some people they are. This particular brand of brain chemicals need stimulating through exercise, certain foods, laughing or a massage. Lifting weights will get them dancing as well. Science says so. Of course, the physical attributes you earn from weight lifting are well documented. The video below is testament to that. A structured workout in the gym will notably increase muscle tone and strength.
Weight lifting also makes your ligaments, tendons and central nervous system perform better as well as increasing bone density which helps to fend off debilitating conditions such as osteoarthritis. Physical exercise has psychological benefits too. This is not news. GPs and psychologists typically advise patients suffering from depression to go for a brisk walk or engage in some form of aerobic activity that triggers endorphins. What you may not hear from your doctor is that lifting weights is a mood booster. An increasing accumulation of scientific studies has revealed a distinct correlation between lifting weights and building confidence.
One study investigating the psychological benefits of strength training found that:
“Favorable psychological changes in the strength-trained subjects included improvements in positive and negative mood, trait anxiety, and perceived confidence for physical capability.”
The Mood Boosting Benefits of Weight Lifting
We’d also argue that feeling confident about your physical capability has a positive influence on your mood and overall cognitive condition. Weight lifting improves posture, flexibility and balance which reduces your risk of injury and helps you feel more competent when performing tasks. And that makes you feel good about yourself. All these little morale boosters give you more self-esteem which is central to owning a sense of self-worth, building healthy relationships and feeling in good spirits more often than not.
Pumping iron also supports the production of collagen which has been linked with deep sleep - the stage where your body is able to rest and recover. Moreover, hormones that fuel muscle growth are released in deep sleep mode so all your hard work in the gym reveals itself quicker. Given the effects of strength training helps men develop a better body image and belief in their physical capabilities, a positive view of Self is a natural next step.
Confidence is about feeling good and having belief in yourself - an inner-knowing that you have the attributes to successfully complete daily challenges and reach your life goals. Positive character traits are a natural outcrop of confidence too; when you know you are your best resource, you tend to make decisions that are good for your mental and physical health and boost your overall emotional wellbeing. Conversely, a lack of confidence gradually leads to depression and a future of happy pills that are costly and not guaranteed to work.
The NHS explains:
“When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a more negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges that life throws at us.” Feelings of restlessness, nausea, constant worry, negative attitudes and a low opinion of yourself are tell-tale symptoms that you suffer from a lack of confidence and mood swings that generally head downwards.
Train The Brain
The mind-body connection dictates a healthy mind cultivates a healthy body and vice versa. Strength training looks after both. Approach weight training with the right mental attitude and its an extremely meditative practice. Start with stretching and mobility exercises to gauge how your body is responding that day, and plan your session accordingly.
During the session, detach your mind from the task at hand and let your muscle memory take over. You will find that liberating the mind from its attachment to the physical realm is a transformative experience. It feeds your power and enables you to achieve your weight lifting goals. After your weight lifting session, take the time to reflect on your achievements. It doesn’t matter that somedays you will feel that your performance could have been better, the most important thing is that you are improving your mind, body and wellbeing. That’s more than most men are willing to do. And, of course, by the end of your session, you will have triggered a bevy of feel-good neurotransmitters that put you in a positive mood. So the next time you’re feeling low in confidence or having a down-swing day, try lifting weights. It will soon lift your spirits.
It's never too late to start. Get professional advice from a personal trainer to help you devise a workout plan suitable for you to achieve your strength goals.