What…exercise creates happiness? Yes…here’s how. Today, you’re going to get a little bit of neuroscience education. The human brain produces its own opiate, called endorphins. They exist mainly to help you cope with high pain levels, which is why morphine and other opiate drugs are used in patients who have lots of pain. The most common reasons the body produces endorphins are stress and pain.
So, what does exercise have to do with endorphins? Very few people want to inflict pain or stress on themselves to get a rush of endorphins, but the third-best way to make your body produce them is to exercise. The “runner’s highp” is a real thing – it’s caused by a flood of endorphins triggered by running. Any exercise will do, but since the endorphin reaction to exercise was first noted in runners, it got the name “runner’s high.” A brisk walk can even induce the release of endorphins, but the more intense the workout, the more intense the body’s response to it with endorphins.
Why would you want to have endorphins rushing around in your body if you’re not in pain? Because they’re also associated with pleasure – it’s believed that feelings of pleasure caused by endorphins train us to repeat otherwise not-very-pleasurable activities. So now you know why runners run, swimmers swim, bikers bike…etc. etc. etc. Pick your favorite form of exercise and get some every day. Because if one of those pleasurable activities is exercise, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll look better, and that’s a happiness recipe, for sure!
I’d love to hear your experience with exercise and happiness – please contact me here or on my Facebook page and share your wisdom. And if you’d like a happiness quick tip to show up in your “in” box to start each week off right, sign up and it’s yours. Just scroll to the bottom of any page on my website – sandy j weaver dot com – the sign-up form is in the footer. Have a happier day!