Happy people don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.
I hope you have seen the movie Legally Blonde, otherwise, you will not get my above quote.
I don’t think its any secret that exercise can totally change your mood. You can have the worst day at work and come home, take it out on the treadmill and have an instant mood boost. Cycling a few miles tends to make that shit list get shorter and you feel on top of the world after leaving a kickboxing class.
What most people refer to as a “runner’s high” may be a real thing, and is constantly being studied. So let’s dive in and learn more about this amazing mood booster that is also super healthy for you. Forgive me if I’m too enthusiastic about this topic. I am currently experiencing this high after my 5 am interval training workout this morning.
Science Behind It
After you step off the track, bike path or sidewalk, what is causing you to have that “oh my God, I’m invincible” feeling? There is a lot happening inside of your body during exercise – fat is burning, lean muscle mass is breaking down (just to be rebuilt) and something magical is happening in your brain (yes, your brain!)
Endorphins are released. What are endorphins? They are chemicals that are released by the brain or spinal cord. These endorphins bind to neuro-receptors in your brain that activate and give you that positive feeling. Did you know that these receptors that bind to endorphins are the same receptors that bind to pain medicines? Endorphins are compared to the opiate morphine, due to the fact that they both bind to the same receptors in the brain to fight off pain and give you that high. The biggest advantage to endorphins? Fighting off pain in a non-addictive way.
There are also studies out there about exercise and increased production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. These guys are your biggest cheerleaders when it comes to exercise and help to make you feel motivated.
Science is awesome and is constantly being studied and tested. If you want to read more of the study I’ve been reading, check out this study from 2008
Psychological Benefits of Exercise
- Self Esteem. This one is huge. Exercise makes you feel good because you are working on being the best you – and it’s showing! Dropping pounds by walking daily will definitely show on your waistline, making you feel more confident and motivated
- Pain reduction. Those endorphins I’ve been talking about help to reduce your perception of pain when they enter the brain. When it used to be impossible to do 10 full pushups in a row may become easier over time and not just due to an increase in strength. When your brain perceives less pain, your ability to exercise skyrockets.
- Euphoric High. This wonder-chemical called an endorphin is what is thought to cause this “runner’s high” as it provides a positive overall feeling in the body.
- Neurotransmitter production. Depression is linked to low serotonin and norepinephrine levels. These two neurotransmitters are produced during exercise – so there is another positive about exercise and depression.
If you haven’t ever felt this euphoric feeling after an exercise, don’t give up. Exercise is something you should never stop trying to do. It may take your body a while to get used to working out if you aren’t a regular at it. But practice helps a lot.
So try it. Do a 3 week Exercise Challenge and workout 4 days a week for 3 weeks. I hope that by the end of the 3rd week you are motivated and high on those endorphins and that my friend, will keep you going.
You can do it!