Feel Good About Exercise
You may not consider the role of neurology in your exercise plans. Yet, the chemicals in your brain can give you the drive to exert yourself. Conversely, aerobic exercise influences brain chemicals like cortisol, endocannabinoids (eCBs), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), dopamine, and serotonin.
Can’t Get Enough Endorphins
The pituitary gland in your brain and the central nervous system secrete endorphins. Scientists do not fully understand the entire role of endorphins. Yet, they attribute the positive mood after aerobic exercise, and running specifically, to endorphins. These chemicals act like an analgesic, similar to morphine. Since we prefer the absence of pain, we gravitate towards activities that release endorphins.
Vigorous fitness routines release endorphins. Building muscle requires fibers to stretch, tear and regrow. So you derive a measure of pain and pleasure from a workout. As you get used to the routine, it is less painful and more pleasurable. Before reaching this hurdle, the anticipation of pain prevents you from gravitating to exercise. You might prefer the pleasure from laying on your bed and munching on a favorite snack.
Train With Endorphins
Animal trainers get domestic animals to perform a variety of amazing tricks with a positive reinforcement reward system. They reward incremental progress with small treats that bring pleasure. You may not consider yourself an animal but you can learn something from their results.
Can you train yourself to enjoy exercise by rewarding yourself with endorphins? How about rewarding yourself with healthy pleasures after a workout? Within a few weeks, the workout itself will be reward enough.
Until you form a fitness routine, you may need to sweeten the deal. Blend yourself a protein smoothie. Let it chill while you’re stretching calves and hamstrings. Then take a brisk walk around a couple of city blocks (in a safe neighborhood).
Reduce impact on your feet at nearby park on a track while wearing proper shoes. Progressively pick up your pace and your distance each week.
Begin jogging as far as you can before walking to reach your distance goal. Also enhance pleasure by walking or jogging while watching the sunrise or sunset. Health permitting, bike riding is also a good form of exercise that can reward you with endorphins. So don’t focus n the pain without realizing the gain. Aim for your pleasurable reward.
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- Heijnen S, Hommel B, Kibele A, Colzato LS. Neuromodulation of Aerobic Exercise-A Review. Front Psychol. 2016;6:1890. Published 2016 Jan 7. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01890
- Anderson E, Shivakumar G. Effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety. Front Psychiatry. 2013;4:27. Published 2013 Apr 23. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00027
- Why Do We Need Endorphins? healthline.com/health/endorphins Retrieved 18 May 2021
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