The benefits of resistance training go well beyond building a more defined physique as studies have shown that it might be a great tool in battling depression.

The dreaded mental health condition has had a profound effect on Australia with an estimated one million Australians suffering from it in a year and one in six experiencing it at some point of their lives.

Depression is usually treated with medication or psychotherapy, but these can be costly, slow to work, or for some, it may even prove to be ineffective, which has led investigators to go look for more means to combat the condition.

One of those is exercise, which is already a well-documented weapon against depression that any psychologist or mental health professional you talk to is most likely to ask you about your physical activities.

A team bannered by Ireland’s University of Limerick set out to take a look at the effect of resistance training, which are exercises that build and fortifies your muscles and their power. Lifting weights is the best and most well known example, but it can also be bodyweight exercises, resistance bands and machines.

The researchers looked through more than 30 research studies that included comprised of almost 2,000 people, and discovered that resistance training was associated with substantial reduction of participants’ depressive symptoms, regardless of age, sex, or their overall strength and health, or even what sort of resistance training regimen they were involved in.

The paper also stressed that those with “mild to moderate depression had significantly larger improvements than those who did not”, noting that resistance training could be even more beneficial for those with more severe depression.

More research is thoroughly needed to hash out the optimum resistance-training program for dealing with depression such as which moves are ideal, how long they should be done, for how often, and so on and so forth.