Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

CrossFit Has Positive Effects on Mental Health

January 23, 2022

Exercise has been shown to have substantial benefits for many aspects of mental health. A study by Murawska-Cialowicz et al identified a potential mechanism by which CrossFit training in particular has potential to positively impact a wide variety conditions that are associated with nervous system function, including mental health.

This study identified significant physiologic changes in a population performing CrossFit training for a 3 month period. These changes included improvements in aerobic capacity, lean body mass, reduced adipose tissue percentage, and increased resting levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The measured improvements are all impactful; however, the increased levels of BDNF detected may be of particular interest.

BDNF is a growth factor that acts to support survival of existing nerve cells as well as helps to encourage growth of new neurons and synapses. BDNF is active in areas of the brain vital to learning, memory, and higher reasoning. Decreased levels of BDNF have been associated with a variety of mental health and neurological conditions such as depression, aging, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.

CrossFit training has the potential to have a physiologic impact on depression, improve long-term memory, and reduce cognitive decline associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. CrossFit training has implications for population and individual health that extend far beyond increasing strength and endurance to improve function. High intensity functional training regimens are safe and should be encouraged in adults of all ages as a primary form of intervention to maintain physical and mental well-being across the lifespan.

If you are interested in getting into CrossFit and want specific instruction and education on the safest and best practices, schedule an appointment with one of the CrossFit specialists at Mend. The physical therapists at Mend have been treating CrossFit athletes in Boulder for over 12 years. They have the exercise knowledge and expertise to help people of all levels achieve all the positive benefits of Crossfit.