The anxiolytic effects of resistance exercise

Front Psychol. 2014 Jul 10:5:753. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00753. eCollection 2014.


Numerous studies have revealed the beneficial effects of regular exercise across a variety of mental health measures. Although a great deal of attention has been paid to the role of aerobic exercise, less is known about the role of resistance exercise (i.e., strength training) in mental health outcomes. Resistance exercise includes a broad group of procedures that evoke repeated muscle action against resistances above those encountered in daily life. A growing body of literature has identified anxiolytic effects of resistance exercise in human populations after both single-bout sessions and long-term training. This research has shown that resistance training at a low-to-moderate intensity (<70% 1 repetition maximum) produces the most reliable and robust decreases in anxiety. Importantly, anxiolytic effects have been observed across a diverse range of populations and dependent measures. These findings provide support for the use of resistance exercise in the clinical management of anxiety.

Keywords: anxiety; exercise; mental health; resistance; strength training.

Publication types

  • Review