Endorphins: The Pleasure of Exercise!

When you exercise endorphins are released in the body, It’s amazing how much better people feel after exercising. This greatly improves the person’s mood and can be a great counter to depression.

How does this amazing process take place – just what is the connection between endorphins and exercise?

The endorphins released during exercise reduce our perception of pain. In fact, they affect the same receptors in the brain that are used by many medications. As a result, for many people endorphins and exercise are the combination that allow them to cope with the stresses of a hard day.

Looking for a Natural High

Following the Vietnam War, in which many soldiers turned to mind altering drugs in order to deal with stress, the US government provided quite a bit of funding to scientists in order to investigate the body’s natural pain relievers and feel good hormones.

In essence, they were looking for nature’s own morphine. In 1972 they found it. The researchers discovered that opiates like morphine and heroin interact with specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which they labelled opioid receptors. But why they wondered, would the body possess receptors for opiates unless it produced it’s own natural opiate. That opiate was soon found to be endorphins. And exercise was seen to be the trigger that released it.

So, just what are endorphins?

What are Endorphins?

Endorphins are neurotransmitters, that is they are chemicals that pass messages from one neuron to another. They have the ability to continue or to stop a neuron message getting to the brain.

Endorphins are produced as a response to fear and stress as well as exercise. New imaging methods have allowed researchers to learn that there more than 20 different types of endorphins. As well as shutting down pain sensations, endorphins also induce feelings of happiness and serenity.

How to Release Endorphins

Endorphins cannot be synthetically manufactured – we can only use what’s released from inside our bodies. But we can do certain things to promote endorphin release. The relationship between endorphins and exercise is well known.

Here are 5 other ways to enhance the pleasure effect of endorphins :

  1. Sniff vanilla or lavender: Add vanilla extract to coffee and dab lavender oil onto your wrists and temples.
  2. Supplement with Ginseng: As well as enhancing endorphin release, this herb balances the release of stress hormones in the body.
  3. Group Fitness Classes: The motivational boost of exercising in a group has been shown to enhance the release of endorphins. In addition, rhythmic regular exercise has a greater endorphin effect.
  4. Laugh every day: Laughter really is the best medicine. It releases endorphins that nullify pain and gives a renewed perspective on our ailments.
  5. Listen to Music: There’s something about the rhythm and beat of our favourite songs that triggers release of the feel good hormone. Working out to music then, is going to give you a double whammy endorphin buzz.