I’m not a psychologist, but one thing that the pandemic has taught me was exercise or the lack thereof, greatly impacts our overall state of being. Are we really surprised? Thanks to the rise of the information age, humans have been exposed to more bad news than ever before. In 2022 (At the time of writing) it’s not surprising for one to wake up and hear about the War in Ukraine, Global Inflation, The Rise of New Pandemic Level Diseases, Global Warming and so many more, it really never stops. Before we start pointing fingers at major news outlets, let's take our look at our own personal media. Research has shown that on Twitter bad news travels five times faster than good news, isn’t that just lovely? Furthermore, researchers have shown that less than five minutes of bad news consumption on social media (Around 2 to 4 minutes) can cause a significant impact on our positive thoughts (Russell, 2021).
Is information a bad thing? Of course not, however throughout history the speed and the dramatisation of bad news has never ever been so widespread. And unfortunately, we absolutely LOVE IT. Humans have a tendency to favour ‘Bad over Good’, in which psychologist term ‘negativity bias’ whereby we pay more attention to negative information over positive information (Soroka et al, 2019). Take for example, you are walking down through beautiful scenery, it might even be the best view you ever had in your life. But then, you get bitten by a snake, what do we remember? The once in a lifetime scenery or the snake bite? I’ll let you answer that in your head. Far from suggesting that the prevalence of ‘bad news’ has impacted your mental health, I would argue that it does shape societal norms. Societal pressures stem from ‘fear’. Not getting the grades in school you wanted? We are scared that we’ll not get the job we want, we fear that society will look down on us, we even fear that our parents might never talk to us again (I’ve been there). This absolutely deteriorates your mental wellbeing.
The world is now facing a mental health crisis (sorry to be the bearer of bad news), the WHO reports a 25% surge in mental health related illness as a result of the pandemic, furthermore worryingly this trend seems to be getting worse. Never before have humans (even through war) had to live with the gigantic amount of negative energy. I don’t believe that the prevalence of ‘bad news’ is the sole cause of the degradation of global mental health, there are so many factors that can be accounted for example and not limited to: the Lack Of Work Life Balance, Financial Concerns and Isolation From Community. But that’s an article that someone way more qualified than me can write about. So how does this even have anything to do with exercise or strength training in general? After all, this is a ‘fitness blog’. Well it does relate and it relates greatly to our industry, especially the definition of ‘fitness’ to the end user.
It’s long been established that exercise has huge benefits for mental wellbeing. However, research methods have been concentrated on ‘aerobic exercise’. These are things like getting participants to run on treadmills or go on stationary bikes and measuring the impacts of this on their moods. While these results have been generally positive, there are numerous modalities of fitness, which have previously been underexplored. Newer academic research has only recently begun to investigate how weight training might also affect mental health. Take for instance, Gordon et al (2017) studies on the impact of resistance exercise training (RET) on depressive symptoms concluded that adults who lift weights are less likely to develop depression. More recently, new studies by the University of Limerick in 2021, which focuses its study on the impact of weight training on people with generally good mental health. The paper concluded that weight trainers scored about 20 percent better on the tests of anxiety. This was a significant breakthrough for the strength training community. Perhaps it’s not surprising to see Strength Training as the top fitness trend moving forwards.
In our own yearly customer research, we found that one of the key reasons people go to the gym was to relieve stress, the ‘gym’ for many has become not just a ground for physical fitness but also mental spirituality and wellbeing. Speaking of our gym, within our internal teams we aim to make our clients ‘gym time’ the most memorable experience of their day. We fully understand that in this 1-2 hours period that clients come to use our service, it has to be one of the most enjoyable escapes from life experience that one could have. So, my simple advice. Feeling down? Or even if you are the happiest person in the world. Please find time to lift some weights, your future self will thank you for it and if you need some help get in touch with us through any of our social media channels or through this form at the end of our page here.
References Covid-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide (2022) World Health Organization. World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide
Gordon, B.R. et al. (2017) “The effects of resistance exercise training on anxiety: A meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis of randomized controlled trials,” Sports Medicine, 47(12), pp. 2521–2532. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0769-0.
Leonhardt, D. (2021) Bad news bias, The New York Times. The New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/24/briefing/boulder-shooting-george-segal-astrazeneca.html Reynolds, G. (2020) Weight training may help ease anxiety, The New York Times. The New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/04/well/mind/anxiety-stress-weight-training-lifting-resistance.html (Accessed: October 19, 2022).
Russell, S. (2021) 'less than five minutes of bad news on social media can lower mood', Evening Standard. Evening Standard. Available at: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/research-twitter-youtube-b960449.html (Accessed: October 19, 2022).
Soroka, S., Fournier, P. and Nir, L. (2019) “Cross-national evidence of a negativity bias in psychophysiological reactions to news,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(38), pp. 18888–18892. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1908369116.