I wrote a post recently called Five Reasons Exercise Makes Me a Better Mom. Endorphins was the first reason I listed. Most of us are familiar with the term “runners high”, which refers to the euphoric feeling one sometimes gets after exercise. We know that exercise stimulates endorphin production, and research has shown that endorphins improve mood. But what is the best kind of exercise and how long do you need to do it in order to benefit from these endorphins?
According to Discovery Health, the best type of exercise for improving your mood is cardiovascular exercises and aerobics. This is because vigorous exercise helps to release the chemicals necessary for the mood-raising high. Even if you only exercise for a short period of time, your mood will be improved. Just ten minutes of moderate exercise is enough to improve your mood, and also decrease fatigue. However, to obtain all the benefits from exercise, not just the mood improving aspects, you should do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. The harder the workout, the more endorphins are released. Researchers have found that light-to-moderate weight training or cardiovascular exercise doesn’t produce the number of endorphins that heavy weights or sprinting (or other anaerobic exertion) produces.
Another reason endorphins make us feel better is that they act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence. This is why many physicians suggest exercise to their patients who have mild depression.
As my running buddies and I always say, running is cheaper than therapy! Do you find that exercise improves your mood?