We all know that regular exercise is great for toning-up your body, warding-off disease and generally improving your overall health.
But exercise is also a great mood enhancer. It can put a smile on your face when you’re feeling down and boost your energy levels when you’re feeling weary.
But why does this happen? Here are some of the most popular theories which try to explain that exercise high.
The Endorphin Effect
If you go back to our hunter/gatherer days, prolonged physical activity was necessary for our survival. If we didn’t go out chasing animals and rummaging for food, we’d basically starve. It’d therefore make sense if our bodies had a way of reducing pain during the hunt, and somehow make this physical activity more enjoyable.
This is where endorphins come in. They’re chemically similar to morphine, and naturally relieve pain within the body.
Although they’re not fully understood, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that endorphin levels in the blood rise during exercise (and also during sex… but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there!). These endorphins appear to not only increase our tolerance of pain, but also give us a sense of pleasure and relaxation.
Exercise can also give you a great sense of achievement, and this could be part of the high that you experience.
Whether you’ve managed to run to the top of a hill without stopping, or survived your first tough exercise class, you can really feel triumphant and get a buzz from a good workout.
Stress-busting Fitness Fantasies
Exercise can also provide a great distraction from life’s troubles. Whether you’re out on a run or in the gym, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about finishing that report, achieving those sales targets or paying the bills.
It’s also amazing how the answers to your problems can somehow pop into your head during a tough training session. As a result, you’ll often come home feeling not only healthier, but a much happier person too.
For daydreamers like me, exercise can also be a time to allow your mind to wander. You can enter into your own private make-believe world, where you can be whoever you want to be and achieve anything you want to achieve (anyone for the 2012 Olympics?!).
Conclusion – Chase that High!
Regular training can definitely perk you up, relieve stress, and give you a heightened sense of well-being.
Whilst the jury is still out as to exactly what causes this high, it does exist and is definitely a habit that’s worth pursuing.
All it takes is a bit of hard work on your part, and you’ll be rewarded with an energy-boosting, exercise-induced, feel-good factor. Best of all, its free, legal and available on-tap!
Surely it’s not something you should be missing out on?