June 8, 2012 1 Comment
So what is an endorphin? How do you explain or describe it?
Well, Wikipedia’s definition is:
Endorphins (“endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm, and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being
ummmm…..what??? They are endogenous opioid peptides? Okay then. Lets start with an easy statement about endorphins. They are supposed to make a person feel good – that simple. Some people say it’s in our heads while others have done research and say it is a chemical released in our body that makes us happy, content, settled. The articles side all over the place – they are not real, they are very real, research has proven, research has not “scientifically” proven…..so read on and you make your own decision.
For runner’s and/or endurance athletes they often are heard describing it as a “runner’s high”. You know, that good feeling you get after a long run, a roll in the hay or a good laugh? It’s not just because you’ve relieved exercise guilt, had a wham-bam orgasm or heard an absolute knee-slapper. That elated feeling, which can last up to 12 hours for some people,also has a scientific explanation. It comes from a release of endorphins. And it’s an “all natural” way of getting high. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. This feeling, is often accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.
Endorphins 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 referenced in the Wikipedia definition outlined in this article earlier. 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.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD, family practitioner and author of “Eat for Health” and “Eat to Live” notes that the science of endorphins-from-exercise is controversial, and that some medical professionals believe the positive feeling you get when you meet a physical challenge, rather than the exertion itself, is what stimulates the endorphin release. Several articles that were researched indicated that endorphins are indeed real and provide benefits to us that include:
Relief of pain
Enhanced immune system
Reduced stress levels
Postpone aging process
Lowers blood pressure
Influences calm or euphoric state of mind
But whatever the cause and benefit, exercise has been proven to enhance the mood. So lets not speculate any longer. Get outside, find your sport and start feeling good……endorphin or no endorphin. In Dr. Fuhrman also recommends prolonged activities such as cross-country skiing, swimming, tennis or a long cardio workout for the best effects. So try to catch an endorphin see what cha think!