Sometimes you don't feel like exercising and yet after an intense workout you feel like a reborn person. You have lots of energy, your head is completely empty and you feel much more cheerful. Sports make you happy, but why is that? And which sports give the greatest euphoric feeling?
The reason you're feeling happy during and after exercise is because of neurotransmitters. They function as messenger substances that provide internal communication. In addition to communication within the nervous system, these neurotransmitters are also involved in motor function, immunity, emotional expression, focus, concentration and pain perception.
When there is a deficiency in the functionality of a neurotransmitter, this can be noticed in feelings of anxiety, moodiness, increased irritability, decreased pleasure perception, altered pain perception, uninhibited or lack of appetite, slow metabolism, inadequate control over emotions, fatigue or decreased self-confidence.
During and right after exercise, neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin are released in your body. These substances make you feel happy. Endorphins make you feel euphoric, light yet powerful. It is a body's own drug that gives you a sense of well-being and serenity.
Endorphins can be thought of as a natural drug, they relieve pain and any discomfort, not only during and after exercise, but also when you have other pain. They are even produced in pregnant women weeks before delivery to help ease the delivery itself.
Another good example of endorphins is the so-called "runners high," a state that runners describe as a period when you no longer feel aches and pains or fatigue, you just keep running, feel good and are in a flow.
Not only endorphins, but also dopamine is a stimulating substance that increases during exercise. This substance will also increase during other activities such as eating or sex.
Dopamine is additionally linked to the reward of a particular behavior. Your body does not always make dopamine. It is released when you do things that your brain thinks should be rewarded including exercise. The release of dopamine overwhelms you with a feeling of well-being and this makes you want to repeat the behavior that produces this feeling.
In addition, serotonin is also a substance that makes us feel happy. It also regulates your appetite, sleep and mood. If you exercise regularly, the serotonin in your body will increase. You will feel motivated to keep going. In combination with endorphins, it will also make you enjoy exercising.
Neurotransmitters are released in your body after only twenty to thirty minutes of exercise. In the case of sports, this is usually positive because the good feeling you get makes you want to start exercising again, thus building up a good condition. In other cases such as gambling or eating, this blissful feeling can turn into addictive behavior.
Which sports release the most substances?
- Mountain Hiking
- Indoor sports
To maximize the amount of substances, you actually need to exercise for at least 30 to 45 minutes at a fairly constant endurance pace. In theory, you should still be able to talk during this time. If you keep this up, your endorphin level can increase by a factor of 5.
Other ways of producing substances
Certain foods are known to stimulate endorphin production:
- The darker the chocolate, the better!
- Alcohol, but don't drink too much because it will backfire.
- Red peppers because they actually hurt, your body will make endorphins in response.
Massages and intimacy
Body contact also stimulates the production of endorphins. Massages are extremely good for this. Especially after intensive exercise, your muscles are damaged and stiff and if you massage them well, a pain stimulus is released. Your body will produce extra endorphins in response.
With intimacy you touch each other a lot, sex in that sense is also a kind of -fine- massage. If an orgasm follows, your endorphin levels will peak! Also, falling in love works incredibly well and long for your endorphin production.
Cheerfulness and laughter have been proven to stimulate endorphin production. Even just pretending to laugh (i.e. making your mouth smile) works. Make jokes or tell a good joke more often and you'll see how good you (and the other person) will feel as a result.
Does this article really come as a surprise to us cyclists? Of course not! After all, cycling is great! If you are feeling down or just want to boost your mental and physical health, producing extra endorphins is the answer. Of course, you can eat certain foods, have intimacy with someone or try to go through life smiling as much as possible. But nothing - and really nothing - beats the euphoric feeling of a wonderful ride on a bicycle. So, pick up that bike more often from your Stasdock bike mount, choose a route and pedal away!