5 mental health benefits of strength training for busy moms | Mint – Mint

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For busy moms juggling responsibilities at home and work, weightlifting can become a vital tool for reducing stress, enhancing mood, improving focus, and providing a sense of accomplishment.  By incorporating strength training into their routines, mothers can empower themselves with a practice that fortifies the mind as much as the body. Here, we decode five known mental health benefits that strength training proffers on women who practice it regularly. 

#1. Reduces stress and anxiety
Strength training is an effective tool for reducing stress and managing anxiety. Reema Jani Chowhan, 34, a Zumba trainer from Mumbai, explains how lifting weights significantly improved her ability to handle daily challenges. “Strength training has played a crucial role in helping me overcome the stress of daily life. While it’s known for its physical benefits, it also sharpens your mental resilience by enhancing willpower,” says Chowhan. Of course, these benefits become visible only when you practice it consistently. “Staying consistent requires patience, but the rewards include greater mental clarity and improved sleep,” she says. Consistent training also fosters hormonal balance and better sleep cycles, both of which are crucial for reducing stress.

Fitness trainer Krishna Kumar ‘KK’ from Cytherea Fitness, Mumbai echoes this sentiment, stating, “Strength training triggers the release of endorphins, which helps reduce stress and creates a profound sense of well-being.”  

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#2. Enhances mood and boosts confidence
Creative artist Rutuja Chavan, 33, says that strength training makes her feel anchored and keeps her fresh and disciplined. “My workout routine is something I never miss, no matter how tired or overworked I feel. It anchors my day, improves my mood, and instills a sense of discipline.” This sense of discipline translates to boosted confidence for her.  Trainer KK agrees. “Seeing consistent progress in strength training is an excellent confidence booster. Moms feel empowered and notice their self-image improving. They find a renewed positive mindset when facing challenges,” he says. For mothers who often put their needs last, setting fitness goals and meeting them can feel empowering. As they lift heavier weights over time, they see themselves as strong individuals capable of more than they imagined. 

#3. Improves cognitive function
Lifting weights doesn’t just sculpt the body, it also sharpens the mind. Strength training increases blood flow and provides a beneficial hormone release that positively impacts cognitive function. “Strength training brings clarity of thought by balancing hormones, and engages the mind during workouts,” Chowhan shares. Engaging the brain by learning new movements and challenging oneself with progressive overload helps build focus and concentration. Strength training can also alleviate the mental fog often experienced postpartum or during stressful times. Improved cognitive function helps moms make sound decisions and efficiently handle the complexities of parenthood.

#4. Provides mental resilience
The discipline and persistence needed for consistent weight training cultivates mental resilience. “Every time I have felt like quitting, I have reminded myself about why I started and how badly I wanted to reach my goals. Doing that has helped me push through. Not just that, I have also seen my energy levels, hormonal balance, and productivity improve,” says Chowhan. Strength training requires regular dedication and adherence to routines, which fosters resilience and translates to other areas of life.  

KK adds, “Strength training teaches moms to build mental resilience by overcoming challenges one rep at a time. They develop the fortitude to handle whatever life throws at them, whether it’s parenting, work, or relationships,” Staying motivated during challenging training sessions encourages the mindset that ‘hard work pays off in the long run’.

#5. Offers a support system
One of the often-overlooked benefits of strength training is the supportive community it provides. Chowhan encourages moms to “start with basic functional workouts before diving into strength training.” Chavan adds that her in-laws help care for her daughter while she trains, giving her the support she needs to stay consistent. By finding like-minded people who are committed to fitness, moms can connect with a supportive network. “A supportive fitness community can make all the difference. Moms benefit from connecting with people who share their goals and understand their challenges,” KK emphasizes.

Practical tips for newbies

1. Start small: Start with bodyweight exercises or light weights to build a solid base. Avoid the temptation to lift heavy from the outset as this can lead to injury.

2. Seek professional guidance: Consult a trainer to develop a programme tailored to your needs and goals.

3. Incorporate cardio: For balanced fitness, combine cardio with strength training. 

4. Stay consistent: Set clear goals, find your motivation, and celebrate each milestone to keep yourself motivated.

5. Focus on form: Prioritize proper form over heavy weights to minimize injuries and maximize gains. 

By starting small and staying consistent, busy mothers across all ages can find peace, confidence, and clarity through weightlifting. As Chowhan wisely says, “Physically strong, mentally sound, emotionally stable, and spiritually grounded.” 

Divya Naik is a Mumbai-based journalist and writer.

 

 

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Published: 12 May 2024, 06:00 PM IST

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