Let’s Talk Endorphins
“Exercise gives you endorphins--endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t” --Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
She might have been legally blonde, but Elle Woods was right. Endorphins do indeed make you happy and exercise is a wonderful way to produce them. While scientists long theorized that these neurotransmitters were the primary cause of euphoria after a rigorous workout, it wasn’t until recent years that endorphins were effectively linked to such “feel good" activities (Medical News Today).
Derived from the words “endogenous” and “morphine”, endorphins are literally translated to “pain relievers from within the body”. By naturally producing when the body is in pain or feeling stressed, endorphins are a key line of defense for overcoming injury and avoiding crisis.
But what makes endorphins most interesting is their ability to lift our mood and stabilize our well-being. Consisting of strands of peptides, endorphins are neurochemicals released from the central nervous system and pituitary gland to alleviate pain. However, release of endorphins also occurs with the activation of our natural reward system (Healthline). Meaning after activities such as exercising, eating, practicing yoga, or having sex, our body says, “Hey, this is good, do more of it!” and releases a happiness hormones in response.
In doing so, not only do we feel a higher sense of pleasure, but our bodies benefit in several other ways, including (Healthline):
- Reduced Anxiety
- Increased Self-Esteem
- Improved Sleep
- Alleviated Depression
- Regulated Appetite
So what can we do to increase our supply of endorphins and make the most of these magical chemicals? Here’s a list of ideas (Healthline)(Medical News Today):
- Exercise Moderately
- Try Acupuncture
- Eat Dark Chocolate and Drink Red Wine
- Practice Aromatherapy
- Indulge in a Warm Bath or Massage
- Laugh out Loud
- Play in the Sun
- Listen to Music
While the science behind endorphins continues to be studied, there’s no denying a certain “high” is associated with the hormone’s release. Whether it be to relieve pain, reduce stress, or simply thank you for choosing a “feel good” activity, endorphins are powerful chemicals that may very well benefit our long-term health. So go out for a run, relax with a bath filled with essential oils, and settle down with a glass of wine. Your body will be glad you did.
Flex it Pink
Biggers, Alana. “Endorphins. Effects and How to Increase Levels”. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320839.php
Caffaso, Jacquelyn. “Why Do We Need Endorphins?”. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/endorphins#purpose
Raypole, Crystal. “13 Ways to Increase Endorphins”. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-increase-endorphins