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Strength Training and Mental Health

I recently read a story about a man who served in the Canadian Armed Forces as a paratrooper and infantry officer. His name is Cheng Xu and while serving he experienced a series of traumatic events that happened in rapid succession. Xu recalled feeling as if his life was crumbling around him. However, there was one thing that kept him grounded and safe.


He was an avid Olympic weightlifter and when things felt like they were going backwards he found the gym to be the one place where he felt joy.

Xu had discovered the healing power of strength training. This is what sparked this blog post.

Owning a gym wasn’t a carefully crafted plan to create massive wealth and become a millionaire. Opening a gym was simply a product of my desire to help people live a happier and healthier life, because fitness saved mine. I understand Xu and I can relate to his experience. Movement: swimming, triathlon, running, Crossfit. They all were my therapy. In the last few years I have found that Olympic lifting, specifically, has become like meditation.

It makes me feel strong and that is what we hope to bring our members at LFT and on our virtual platform. Strength when you lift the weight and strength when you have to overcome adversity in life.

How does strength training benefit us mentally?

1. Strengthens your mind body connection

Olympic lifting demands a high level of mind body connection. Engaging in movements that require you to recruit multiple systems stimulates the brain.

2. Lowers stress and anxiety

Resistance training reduces stress by bringing down your stress hormone, cortisol. With the reduction of cortisol, there is a reduction in anxiety. Feel good hormones, endorphins, are released when you strength train and can reduce anxiety by up to 20%.

Incorporating strength training can also increase mental energy and focus. Research shows that adding in a strength routine has protective effects for memory and cognitive decline and can improve cognitive health in older individuals.

3. Improves our relationship with our bodies

The process of getting physically stronger increases overall confidence and self-esteem in all individuals, especially women. On study found that women who work out just 20 minutes a day are able to improve their overall body image two-fold. In teens, physical activity helps to achieve positive self-concept and promote psychological well-being.

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