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Endorphins: The Connection with Exercise

Endorphins: The Connection with Exercise

Exercise is a valuable component of any healthy lifestyle.  There is an abundance of research to support the vast benefits of exercise for overall health and physical wellness, but it seems that mental health and psychological wellness may have great benefits as well.  One benefit that many gain while exercising is a release of endorphins, which are compounds that promote improved mood, mental wellness, as well as support other physiological components to your health. The information below details what these compounds can do for your health along with the type of endorphins exercise you should perform to get benefits.

coule jogging

What are Endorphins?

Endorphins, which are technically named beta-endorphins, originate and are generated in the pituitary gland within the body.1 Other types of cells in the body store and release these compounds, but the primary region of interest for endorphins is the pituitary gland.  These compounds, when secreted in your bloodstream, act like a powerful relaxing drug when under the proper circumstances. When endorphins reach your bloodstream and make it to your brain, there is an influx of senses your body may feel, which tend to be a “high” effect.  One of the most notorious of senses your body experiences with endorphins is a morphine-like effect, meaning your body feels euphoric and happy. This is due to the fact that endorphins are small compounds that produce an analgesic effect in the brain, which creates the euphoric effect.  

A euphoric effect in the mind may seem a bit over-the-top, but this effect is small enough to where it should not cause an issue depending on the number of endorphins released.  In addition to creating a euphoric effect on the brain, endorphins act to inhibit the release of GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, which promotes the release of dopamine in the bloodstream. All of these physiological responses can play an amazing role in your health and wellness and the specific health benefits you can get from an endorphin release is discussed ahead.

What Health Benefits come from Endorphins?

As discussed above, endorphins play a physiologic role in releasing compounds that can help to boost certain aspects in your health and wellness plan.  Commonly, endorphin exercise tends to be quite powerful when it comes to your overall wellness. Let’s take a closer look into how endorphins affect your health and wellness.

woman with arms stretched out

Mood Enhancer 

One underrated part of a healthy lifestyle is your general effect, which is also known as your mood.  As every adult knows, your mood can change from day to day and this is something that is affected by your mental wellness.  However, many adults have mental conditions affected by mood disorders that can simply drag down overall wellness. Fortunately, there are holistic approaches you can employ to your daily wellness plan as a way to combat a bad mood.  Studies have shown that certain exercises can help to enhance your mood in certain depressive disorders as well as in bipolar disorder.2  Part of this effect could be due to endorphin release that some individuals experience during a workout; however, the type of exercise would need to be tailored specifically for each individual.

Reduced Anger

This is not to say that adults are angry often, but it seems that endorphins exercise and certain exercise “highs” can help to mitigate anger.  Anger is a deep negative emotion that can harm your wellness in a number of ways. It can harm personal relationships, your career, financial wellness, as well as your overall health.  With that in mind, exercise, or specifically the “high” effect you get from exercise, possibly due to endorphin release, may be a key element in controlling any pent-up anger in your life.  Studies have shown that high-intensity exercise is better than lower intensity for improving symptoms of fatigue as well as anger.3 While it is natural to become angry over a given situation, it is good to find healthy ways to deal with anger so that your overall wellness plan can continue to flourish.

man holding back in pain

Role in Pain  

Pain is one of the most common symptoms monitored in the healthcare industry.  Anytime you visit a clinic or your doctor, chances are you asked if you feel any pain associated with a certain symptom.  For this reason, pain is a serious symptom in the healthcare industry and unfortunately, pain can be a burden on overall wellness.  Currently, about 100 million American adults suffer from chronic pain caused by a wide range of conditions.4 While many adults suffer and are directed to prescription medications, the unfortunate issue is that many adults are faced with addiction following medication use.  One condition that is no stranger to pain is fibromyalgia. These patients experience frequent, generalized, and chronic pain and often there is no treatment option.  Fortunately, studies are starting to break ground on simple and effective ways to control for pain and it seems that endorphins exercise may play a role. Studies have shown that endorphins are commonly lower among individuals at rest and following exercise than the standard individual, suggesting that endorphin release may be the key to managing generalized pain.5

Positivity 

Positivity is a relatively newer term in the wellness world, but it seems that a positive effect may have certain health perks.  Positive people tend to have good self-esteem and a certain ability to face adversity, but it seems these groups of people also may have an important perk in wellness.  Positivity has been shown to be a promoter of overall well-being among individuals with cardiovascular disease.6 Having a simple and positive effect in your daily life may be an easy to employ wellness change that could have a significant impact on your lifestyle.  Boosting your positivity throughout your day and lifestyle can be as simple as seeing the brighter side of situations, but there may be a better solution.  Studies have shown that singing, dancing, and playing music (drums) can help to trigger your endorphin release in the body, which leads to a positive mood.7  Consider adding more music to your life as a holistic way to help boost your endorphin release as a way to boost your positivity.

person on bicycle

Exploring Endorphins Exercise

Now that you have some background on what endorphins can do for a wellness plan, it is important to have an idea on how to get these compounds to release from your brain into your blood so that you can get reap the benefits.  Fortunately, exercise can play a role in regulating the endorphin release; however, the type of exercise is an important factor. Consider the information below on various forms of exercise and how they can affect endorphins in your body.

Resistance Training

One important aspect of training is weight lifting or resistance training.  This type of exercise often involves exercises that are designed to work on muscular fitness, as a way to boost overall wellness. However, when it comes to endorphin release, the results may be mixed.  Studies have shown that a standard resistance training program led to a decrease in following a workout, suggesting that this type of endorphin exercise may not be ideal.8  While resistance training can induce a variety of health perks, it should be a part of any healthy lifestyle, as this may not be the exercise of choice for inducing happy chemicals in the body.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Similar to resistance training, cardiovascular exercise is an important element in any training program.  Studies have shown that high-intensity training, sometimes referred as HIT or interval training, creates a faster boost in secreting endorphins in the body in response to training.9 This effect tends to be dose-dependent, meaning the more high-intensity exercise you perform means you could experience a greater release of these happy compounds.  In addition, this study found that the endorphin release was greater in high-intensity training compared to lower intensity, but there was still an endorphin exercise effect.

Explore your Endorphin Release with Exercise

The information above is intended to give you a little background on endorphins and how they play a role in exercise.  Exercise is a critical element in any wellness program and it seems finding a way to get that endorphin release can help to control mood, anger, and to increase positivity.  Consider the use of high-intensity cardiovascular training for best results, but lower intensity cardiovascular exercise should still suffice.

Photo credits: gpointstudio/shutterstock.com, KamilMacniak/shutterstock.com, TBstudio/shutterstock.com, shutter_o/shutterstock.com, MladenZivkovic/shutterstock.com

Savannah

By Savannah Wilson

Savannah is an aromatherapy enthusiast who takes pride in knowing everything about essential oils, from ylang-ylang to chamomile. When taking a break from learning more about essential oils, Savannah likes to spend her time reading books or working out.

Favorite MONQ blend: Sexy

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

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