Incredible Things Happen to Your Brain When You Exercise

female athlete sits on a bench after exercisingIf you’re a pro athlete, bodybuilder, distance runner, gym rat, HIIT devotee or other type of fitness addict, you’ve probably experienced a feeling a complete bliss during or after a workout. But did you ever wonder why this happens? Maybe you’ve heard of endorphins, which have a lot to do with the feel-good “high” you get from a sweat session. Here’s an accelerated course on endorphins and exercise, including the best workouts for releasing endorphins.

Endorphins and Exercise

First things first: What are endorphins, exactly? Simply put, they are happy brain molecules (or neurochemicals, if you want to get technical) that your body releases during exercise. The term is a combination of endogenous (meaning “from the body”) and morphine, which, as you probably know, is a strong pain reliever. So, endorphins are somewhat of a naturally occurring pain reliever that your body produces during vigorous exercise. Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing adds that endorphins are responsible “for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts.”

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), the benefits of endorphin production go way beyond just a post-workout sublime feeling. 

Regular exercise can:

  • Decrease tension in your body
  • Elevate and stabilize your mood
  • Improve the quality of your sleep
  • Reduce feelings of anxiety
  • Boost your self-esteem

And the good news is that you don’t need to run a marathon to experience all the positive effects. The ADAA says that “even five minutes of aerobic exercise” can alleviate anxiousness.

The Best Exercises for Releasing Endorphins

Now that you’re keen on the basics of endorphins, you might be wondering, What’s the best exercise to release endorphins? You have to get your heart rate up to trigger these neurotransmitters, so when it comes to boosting mood and reducing stress, cardio is your best bet. Research has shown that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) releases endorphins in the brain. A 2017 study by the University of Turku found that HIIT releases substantially more endorphins than less demanding aerobic exercises.

The more you work out, the better you’ll feel. Harvard Health Publishing recommends getting your sweat on almost every day. But if you’re not ready to dive into a high-intensity workout regime, don’t sweat it. (Pun intended!) According to the Mayo Clinic, “Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever … and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.” So, whether you prefer lifting weights, running, dancing, martial arts, swimming, pilates or vigorous interval training, you’ll be able to reap the mood-enhancing benefits of exercise. 

At Boneafide Nutrition, we are all about catering to the body’s natural ability to make us look, feel, and perform our best. That’s why we offer high-quality fitness supplements with science-backed ingredients. To feel even better during and after your workouts, try our products today!

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