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Most research for depression and anxiety focuses mainly on people with clinical-level symptoms. This is due to more urgency toward finding solutions for these individuals.
Although, people with a healthy mental state will also experience mild forms of anxiety, or they might have persistent levels of preclinical anxiety.
Anxiety in Healthy People
Preclinical levels, by definition, mean it precedes clinical groups. Therefore, keeping it down in the typical population is another way of ensuring people remain healthy.
The researchers published an article in Nature’s science journal that looked at the relationship between preclinical anxiety symptoms and resistance training in younger adults.
It was shown that resistance training helped to improve anxiety symptoms in people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Still, almost no research has looked at this effect in a healthy population group.
Furthermore, most of these studies use methodologies that significantly limit how it transfers to non-laboratory studies. Therefore, the researchers decided to use an “ecologically-valid” resistance training program, which could be performed quickly at a gym or at home as in a lab.
Resistance Training for Anxiety Study
Each volunteer did a variety of online questionnaires, like the 16-item Penn State Worry Questionnaire and the Psychiatric Diagnostic Screening Questionnaire-GAD (general anxiety disorder) test.
The resistance training exercise results showed that anxiety symptoms measured before the study, then at one week, one month and after the program ended, were considerably reduced.
The most significant differences happened during baseline and week one, and from the fourth week to post-program, a plateau effect was seen from weeks one to four. It was compared to a control group, and almost no change in anxiety symptoms was found.
Interestingly, while devotion was very high at 85%, the compliance rate was 83%. On average, people who finished the study showed greater worry and preclinical anxiety symptoms from the beginning than those who had quit the study. Concluding the study was at least in part dependent on people who experienced benefits from volunteers.
Research into Resistance Training and Anxiety Symptoms
Further research will be necessary to determine how and why resistance training improves people’s anxiety in healthy populations.
The researchers cite the social properties of the study, feelings of mastery, and the belief in improved mental health. However, this last one baffles the researchers hypothesize that the constant achieving of goals and setting by volunteers might be a contributing factor.
These findings are essential for the age groups of 18 to 40 years old, which the researchers picked based on the average age of people diagnosed with GAD, which is about 30 years. Reducing subclinical anxiety levels can prevent them from becoming a clinical disorder—but further research is essential to confirm this hypothesis.