Addicted to Endorphins
Are you hooked too? Have endorphins replaced our addiction to sugar, to alcohol?
Are they the crack cocaine of the fitness world?
So ask yourself this, what is it you truly exercise for?
Do you have goals- whether they be aesthetic or strength goals?
Or do you do it for you? For the rush and feeling of euphoria after a long run or workout?
Personally, I hold my hands up and say yes, I am well and truly hooked to the high. To the rush, feeling of power and invincibility I experience after a truly good lift.
Yes i’m driven by strength, by the goals I have to push the weights of my lifts but what gets me through is the feeling I know that’s waiting for me when I finish it.
We’ve all heard of the ‘Runner’s high’– this is supposedly what runners feel after prolonged periods of exercise, I sure felt it when I used to do a lot of running a few years ago (before I damaged by knees).
So what exactly are endorphins?!
Endorphins are a teeny tiny little chemical released from an area of the brain known as the pituitary gland.
They are released in response to a number of things;
And have a variety of effects on the body including..
They induce feelings of euphoria, pleasure and happiness. They essentially put us on a natural ‘high’ in the same way the drug morphine does, in fact, one variety called beta-endorphins has been found to be stronger than morphine in its effects on the body (a shocking 48 times stronger!), so you can appreciate how it’s possible to become addicted to this internal chemical.
When they bind to receptors in the brain, they inhibit the release of GABA resulting in an excess of dopamine production; Dopamine (another neurotrasmitter similar to endorphins) also stimulates the feeling of pleasure in our brain.
Which is why…
They relieve stress:
When you’re stressed out, a boost of endorphins can make you feel more relaxed by reducing levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
It is believed to do so by inhibiting its release via the pituitary gland and hence acting as a stress reducing agent.
In addition to stress, endorphin secretion is triggered by the consumption of foods such as chocolate and chilli. The release of endorphin caused by chocolate is believed to play a role in its often being turned to as a ‘comfort food’
They also enhance and boost your immune system:
It has actually been shown that endorphins increase immune function such as increasing antibody production and cytoxic capacity of lymphocytes (your white blood cells) so basically making them more powerful! That’s pretty amazing don’t you agree?
So clearly, the release of endorphins is beneficial to us in a multitude of ways, but back to increasing levels of it through exercise specifically..
What we need to remember is that there are millions of different ways one can exercise.. Just because people around you ‘go to the gym’ does NOT mean you have to.
You do NOT have to follow the latest workout trend thats splashed all over social media (in the same way you don’t have to follow the latest diet trend!)
Do what YOU enjoy..
-Try home workouts
-Try new exercise classes
-Experiment with boxing/ judo/ kickboxing
-Even yoga/ ballet/ pilates
Hell, anyway you choose to challenge yourself, as long as you’re moving your body, you’re exercising as far as i’m concerned!
One thing I do want to touch upon are benefits of exercise in the morning ..
- A positive start to the morning sets the tone for your entire day
- You’ll feel less stressed when you get to work
- You are likely to have the most energy after a good nights sleep
- Your metabolism will be revved up for the rest of the day (sadly, time of day has no effect on fat burning but that’s another topic for a different blog post..)
To summarise; endorphins are wonderful little chemicals that are definitely under-utilised. Their multitude of benefits really are amazing and can be accessed simply by moving our bodies!
Find out what YOU enjoy and what works for YOU because at the end of the day, that’s what you’ll stick to 🙂
But don’t forget to keep this in mind;
One of my all time favourite quotes by Jim Rohn. Be kind to yourself, exercise should make you feel healthy and happy- it shouldn’t be a chore, and it shouldn’t stress or strain you.
Thank you for reading, do share your thoughts, I love hearing what you guys have to say 🙂
Comment below or contact me on any of my social media platforms as always,
Lots of Love,