Having strong hand-grip strength is a sign of good mental health, new research finds.
People who have greater upper and lower body fitness in general are at a lower risk of depression and anxiety.
Indeed, strength training can lead to reductions in depressive symptoms, previous studies have shown.
The reason may be that exercise releases endorphins and increases blood flow to the brain.
The conclusions come from a study of 1,159 middle-aged women in Singapore.
Fully 15 percent were suffering depression and/or anxiety.
The results showed that women with weaker hand-grip strength were more likely to have depression and anxiety symptoms.
The longer it took women to perform a simple exercise involving repeatedly getting out of a chair, the worse their mental health was.
Dr JoAnn Pinkerton, the study’s first author, said:
“Strength training has been shown to lead to a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.
Both strength training and aerobic exercise appear to improve depression, possibly as a result of increased blood flow to the brain or improved coping with stress from the release of endorphins such as norepinephrine and dopamine.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Menopause (Ganasarajah et al., 2019).