Thursday, November 5, 2015

Why does exercise feel so good?

Think back to the last time you worked out. And then, think back to how you felt when you finished whatever you were doing. Despite the sweat and perhaps some muscle fatigue, you probably felt really good. Maybe even happier. And hopefully, you felt absolutely ready to take on your day or night in the best of moods. Reason why? Your workout cued up your supply of endorphins.

One major reason to exercise? Because it produces endorphins, your body's all-natural way to feel happy.
What are endorphins? Tiny chemicals found throughout your body. They're kind of like hormones. Endorphins are produced in the brain and work to minimize your perception of pain. In fact, because of this, they are often likened to morphine and codeine—but endorphins are not addictive.

This, of course, is why doctors often suggest that individuals suffering from depression hit the gym as a form of treatment. Exercise triggers the production of endorphins, and they ultimately work to promote a relaxed state of being. Makes sense, right? The more relaxed you are, the less pain you'll feel. And as you can imagine, such a state lends itself well to good moods and multiple smiles.

Science and medicine will go on to describe the production of endorphins as a process that involves neurotransmitters in the brain. That's all great, but it doesn't take a scientist or doctor to understand the role that endorphins play in that feel-good state of being you get after a workout. You simply have to hit the gym to believe it.

Scratch that—you simply have to move to believe it.

A video posted by Tara (@adailydoseoffit) on

It's not strength training alone or time spent running that triggers your supply of endorphins. It's an activity, plain and simple. Movement. Getting up and going, instead of sitting. And that, of course, is the best part about endorphins.

You don't need a prescription, and they are completely free.

According to WebMD, "regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety, boost self-esteem and improve sleep." Not because you successfully completed your sets and reps. Not because you upped the weight or held a plank a few seconds longer. Not even because you ran one more mile.

It's because you did all of that, and your body responded by releasing endorphins.

It's those endorphins that make your brain smile. Which, in turn, makes you smile.

Ultimately, it's not wrong to say that exercise makes you happy, but it's absolutely right to claim an "endorphin rush" or a "runner's high." So next time you're feeling blue, remember this: Get up. Go. Exercise.

Just move.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see how I like to get that endorphin rush!

Question: Do you notice post-workout endorphins? If you're feeling down, is there a go-to exercise and/or workout that you turn to for a pick-me-up?

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