The Science Behind Your Endorphin High
- By Dr. Jenni Bruning Brown
- March 3, 2019
If you’re a person who has let off some steam by hitting the pavement and going for a run or fiercely riding it out on your bike, you know that a good sweat is always a good remedy for stress relief and anxiety. You might even be an endorphin junkie, constantly chasing the workout high that so many of us have found and crave. And, if you’re familiar with the feelings you get after a good hard run or a killer cycling class, you might know the feeling, just not all of the details of what’s really going on in your body to give you that buzz-y feel (and how you can keep getting that rush).
Dr. Jenni Bruning Brown, sport psychologist and founder of the flymethod, says that there is science behind the endorphin high you get after you workout. “The chemicals in your brain are responding to the work you are doing and that effort causes the body to react as it does during and after the workout.” Dr. Bruning Brown explains that you won’t experience the endorphin high if you don’t take the effort to high levels, however.
In fact, you need to push yourself beyond your natural comfort levels to experience the feelings of the ‘endorphin high.’ The endorphin high was first found in long-distance runners on long runs back in the 70’s, and they realized that they had feelings of euphoria after they finished their long training runs. The extended effort they gave actually produced chemicals in the brain’s hypothalmus and pituituary gland called endorphins. These endorphins are actually natural painkillers, which Dr. Bruning Brown says have a side benefit of decreasing feelings of depression and increasing one’s feelings of well-being and happiness.
“In addition to getting the endorphin high, when we exercise at high levels, we also increase other chemicals called neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine). Studies have linked low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine to depression, and anxiety,” says Dr. Bruning Brown.
What better way to increase your mood, build up your self-confidence and build up your arsenal for winter? Get your workout buzz and sweat on at the same time. It’s legal, it’s healthy, and it’s good for you.