Forget being an adrenaline junkie. Focus on your endorphins and you’re sure to have a happier and healthier life.
Endorphins are chemicals released by the pituitary gland and are responsible for that post-workout buzz. Structurally similar to morphine, they are considered natural painkillers and bring about feelings of euphoria and wellbeing. Research has linked endorphins with natural reward circuits related to activities such as eating, drinking, sex and maternal behavior.
So how do you get that endorphin high? How do you become an endorphin junkie?
Any form of cardio leads to a release of endorphins. You need to ensure that your heartbeat picks up pace – 130 and above – and stays there for a while.
The time it takes you to get the proverbial “runner’s high” differs from person to person. It can be anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes but should definitely not involve overtraining. Keep in mind that as time goes by and your body gets used to a particular time of exercise, getting the runner’s high will take more effort.
The happiness that you get after a good workout stays with you the whole day. I always suggest that cardio is best done in the morning as you can reap the “happy” benefits all day long. If you go for a run in the evening you only enjoy the high for a couple of hours.
Try these five workouts if you are chasing an exercise high:
Be it in the outdoors or on the treadmill, running is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories and get fit. Numerous studies have supported that running leads to the proverbial “high”. Scientists have linked moderate to intense exercise to morphine-like brain chemicals called endocannabinoids, suggesting that endorphins alone aren’t responsible for your happy feeling after a long run. But make sure you outfit your feet with the right running shoe before stepping out.
Summer is the perfect time to start swimming. This form of exercise uses lots of muscles in the body and strongly works out your heart and lungs. It’s a great cardio workout that releases serotonin; beginners can aim for 30-minute swims to improve their mood. A Speedo survey has shown that swimming releases stress and tension, and being in the water helps people feel good about themselves and get mentally refreshed.
Get that bike out of storage and start cycling today to gain a little happiness. Cycling is much easier on your legs, knees, ankles and feet as compared to running and provides almost the same benefits. It uses the largest muscle groups – the legs – and raises the heart rate effectively. Studies have shown that an increase in the intensity of cycling leads to a rise in the levels of endorphin release.
This is hands-down one of my favorite exercises. Begin by keeping the kettlebell down between your legs and swing the ball to eye level. Use your arms as a pendulum and power through with your hips and legs. Make sure your core is tight as you stand up straight. Swing back down and repeat. Proper form is extremely important with this exercise.
Research has shown that resistance exercise training has umpteen health benefits. It helps maintain functional abilities and prevents osteoporosis, sarcopenia (loss of body mass), lower-back pain and other disabilities. A fast-paced resistance workout can even count as cardio if it keeps the heart rate up. The best part? It also releases endorphins and helps keep anxiety at bay. Keep in mind that weightlifting is also good for women.