Study: Sad seniors should 'pump it up'

Share this content:

Lifting weights can be as powerful as some drugs when seniors want to ward off depression, Australian researchers say. A study of 1,000 elderly people with clinical depression showed modest weightlifting improved conditions significantly.

"It actually is as powerful as the anti-depressants used by psychiatrists," said Dr. Nalin Singh, a physician and geriatrician at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. "All the symptoms of depression get better. Their sadness goes away, they sleep better and they rate their quality of life better.

"It also improves their attitude towards aging, and their belief in themselves is also changed," Singh added, while speaking outside the Australian Association of Exercise and Sports Science conference in Brisbane.

Brisk walking, by comparison, is also seen as a positive exercise, but it is not always possible for individuals with limited mobility, Singh added. Researchers said they weren't certain why lifting weights worked so well to combat depression but they think chemical reactions in the brain might emulate drugs, but without side effects. Lifting weights also can help lower the risk of broken bones, Singh pointed out.