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Bodybuilding improves symptoms of depression and anxiety in the elderly, study confirms

The practice of bodybuilding by the elderly can promote the reduction of body fat and the gain of strength and muscle mass, contributing to functional autonomy and reducing the number of falls, injuries and fractures. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that strength training can also benefit the mental health of the elderly population, especially in the case of individuals who already have anxiety and depression disorders.

These benefits were confirmed by a study published in the magazine Psychiatry Research, in which more than 200 articles on the topic were systematically reviewed. The analysis was conducted by Paolo Cunha , scholarship holder FAPESP post-doctorate at the Albert Einstein Israelite Institute of Education and Research (Iiepae).

“Resistance exercise has been shown to be one of the best non-pharmacological strategies for healthy aging, promoting numerous health benefits in general, including improving mental health”, says Cunha.

According to the researcher, the results found are very promising. In addition to improving symptoms of depression and anxiety in the general population, weight training appears to have a greater effect on people who have a confirmed diagnosis of anxiety and depression disorders.

“Epidemiological studies have revealed that the reduction in muscle strength and mass, natural events associated with aging, may be associated with an increase in mental health problems, since there are several physiological mechanisms that cause functional and structural changes and that are controlled by the brain ”, points out Cunha.

The researcher also highlights another important benefit for mental health: when performed in a group, weight training allows for greater social interaction between practitioners.

Recommended training

The investigation also revealed the best ways to structure training to improve mental health. “The way training is carried out seems to influence the results achieved. The information produced so far suggests that the ideal option for this audience and this purpose is to practice weight training three times a week, with three sets of each exercise and not too long sessions – six exercises are apparently enough. Do less, but do it well: a short series brings more results. This information is very relevant, since there is still no guideline with specific recommendations for resistance training focusing on mental health parameters”, says Cunha.

Although there are many possibilities for variation in the way resistance training programs are prescribed for the health, autonomy and quality of life of older adults, most of these programs result in improvement in symptoms of anxiety and depression, directly or indirectly, regardless of intensity. and the volume applied to training, highlights Edilson Cyrino, professor at the State University of Londrina (UEL), researcher responsible for the study and coordinator of the Active Aging Longitudinal Study, a project started in 2012 with the aim of analyzing the impact of resistance training on parameters related to the health of elderly women.

Another point observed by the researchers was that the use of weight training equipment appears to be more beneficial for mental health than resistance exercise methods that involve the use of elastic bands or your own body weight, for example. “Although there is no statistical data comparing the two types of training, the prescription of resistance exercise with the use of equipment proved to be more suitable, providing a better result on the mental health of the elderly, considering that it is possible to better control the intensity and the volume of the exercise”, says Cunha.

In the article, the researchers emphasize that, despite the indisputable relationship between bodybuilding and mental health, there are still important gaps to be filled. “In general, most studies have been carried out with few volunteers, which makes it difficult to understand how this phenomenon occurs and what the main mechanisms involved are. Therefore, this is an area of ​​research that has been gaining ground in recent years and still has a long way to go”, concludes Cunha.

The researcher is currently conducting a project in partnership with the Research Group on Clinical Interventions and Cardiovascular Diseases (Gepicardio) at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein with the purpose of analyzing the impact of long periods of sedentary lifestyle on vascular dysfunction and the reduction of cognitive function in the elderly.

The article Can resistance training improve mental health outcomes in older adults? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials can be read at: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165178124000337?via%3Dihub

Source: CNN Brasil

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