Did you know that exercise can lift your mood and stave off holiday stress?
It’s true; many studies have been done in the area of exercise and the naturally occurring chemicals that are produce in the body during exercise. Some such chemicals include endorphins, epinephrine, serotonin, dopamine and anandamide. These powerful neurotransmitters actually resemble opiates in their abilities to reduce pain and produce a feeling of well-being.
They can be secreted as a response to situations that cause physical stress, pain, fear or great pleasure. These chemicals work to help you relax and feel euphoric in the face of challenge. It is believed that this natural reaction may have played a great role in the survival of early humans in a primitive environment, where it was paramount to hunt and track wild animals; to eat or be eaten.
Focus on Endorphins to Reduce Stress
Today we may not have the same survival stress, but these same reactions may help us deal with other more mental challenges we face in our fast paced modern world. With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season you may want to focus on some endorphin elevating exercise to help you reduce unnecessary stress. You may have heard to the ‘runners high’ experienced by those who run for long periods of time.
Research has been ongoing in this area with promising new ways of using brain imaging methods to allow researchers to study the ebb and flow of these powerful chemicals as they interact with human brain cells, verifying their role in the rush that exercise -- and other triggers – can prompt. Exercise, in particular the type that is intense or continuous in nature, like cardio training, walking and dancing can give an exerciser a rush of endorphins and other related chemical, allowing them to workout stronger and longer without pain or discomfort… Add the friends and fun music in a group exercise class and that natural high may multiply.
To maximize your natural high this season try the following sure-fire endorphin accelerators:
- Heavy weightlifting
- Intense aerobic activity that includes periods of sprinting or increased exertion (i.e. interval training)
- Party style group exercise classes with great music or friendly competition (i.e. zumba and crossfit)
- Mind body focused workouts that synchronize fluid movement to breathing and meditation (i.e. Yoga, Pilates and Tai chi)
Welcome to a healthier life!