Now we all know the obvious benefits of exercise: to lose weight, look healthy, put on muscle, etc. Whatever your reasoning may be, there is another huge benefit from working out. Did you know that exercising can actually put you in a better mood?
Exercise is extremely beneficial and has been known to improve quality of life in those who suffer from depression and other mood disorders. I’m sure you’ve heard of the infamous Legally Blonde quote:
But what exactly are endorphins? Sure, you’ve heard about them; they are what your body releases when you exercise.
BUT WHY? Why do we release these “endorphins”? What exactly is it that they do?
Let’s be honest with ourselves, when we workout, whether it be lifting weights or cardio (don’t put me down for that), our bodies recognize this as a moment of stress. As your heart rate increases, there is a signal that is sent to your brain that you are possibly fighting or fleeing from the enemy (or what is considered your fight or flight). Your brain then releases something called “Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor” (BDNF). This is your brains way of “resetting” and the reason behind why we usually feel good after a hard workout.
BUT THOSE AREN’T ENDORPHINS, YOU SAY? I know, chill out. I’m getting there.
With all of that being said, endorphins are also released. These are a supplemental chemical released from your brain to also aid BDNF in fighting this stress. Endorphins have similar addictive behaviors as morphine and other narcotics, which is why we feel so good. Endorphins block the feeling of pain and give you a sense of euphoria. The only difference? It’s good for us!!
So what’s the key to all this happiness here?
Now, with THAT said, you don’t have to get a killer workout in to feel these effects. Studies have shown that all you need is 20 minutes of focused exercise to get the full happiness boost everyday. So how do you make that a consistent habit? Well easier said than done for most, but it can be done!
Just bear this in mind as your motivation:
“The release of endorphins has an addictive effect, and more exercise is needed to achieve the same level of euphoria over time.” (McGovern)
So not only are you “making gains” in terms of muscle growth, but you are also “making gains” in terms of happiness. Now what more could you ask for?
— Stay tuned for next week’s blog post: Exercise and Learning —
Featured Image Credit: Happy Project