What are endorphins?
Last week we looked at 10 ways you can help boost your self-esteem. As part of that advice, I recommended that you do regular exercise because when we workout, our brains release a chemicals called endorphins which have a really positive affect on our brains and our sense of well being. So this week I thought I’d take a closer look at these amazing hormones and how they can affect us. So what are endorphins? Endorphins are made in lots of parts of the body including your brain and spinal cord Firstly they block sensors in the brain that receive pain messages. So they act a bit like natural pain killers. This helps you carry on with your exercise and makes it easier as you go on. When our bodies release lots of these endorphins into the body we can even experience a bit of a ‘high’. It’s something that runners often experience where they get the feeling they could go on forever. It seems that you need to be exercising quite hard for at least 20 minutes to experience this flood of endorphins, though moderate exercise will still activate the release of some too.
The great thing about endorphins is that they can have a really positive affect on lots of different aspects of your mind and body and those affects last beyond the time you are exercising. They help to reduce tiredness and stress, and can affect your emotions, making you feel happy and can even positively affect our mood for up to 24 hours! They can even help in cases of depression and improve your sleep patterns and your self-esteem. Endorphins are also great for boosting your immune system.
Now it’s not just exercise that promotes the production of endorphins. Lots of things that we love doing can also have the same effect - eating chocolate, looking at art, meditation and massage, laughter, sex, eating spicy food, even yawning! But with exercise you got a whole lot of other health benefits!
In order to make endorphins your body needs fats and sugars – the healthier kind such as from fish and nuts and fruit. In a healthy, balanced diet, there should be enough fat and sugar to do this, so there is no need to increase your intake!
So do something really uplifting for your mind, spirit and body this week and get active – Let’s get those endorphins flowing!