Did you know that the hormones released when you exercise can actually help relieve depression? Endorphins are special hormones secreted in your brain, and also your nervous system, and they have a great deal to do with your mood. These peptides actually activate the same receptors kicked off by powerful drugs, without the dangerous and negative side effects. Put quite simply, working out and exercising can boost your mood and make you feel happy and self-assured.
So, how do endorphins released when you exercise help improve your mood when you are depressed? It was in the 1970s when scientists began to study how the human brain interacts with opiates. Drugs like morphine and heroin cause a very pleasurable experience, but have obvious downsides. Researchers wanted to know how to duplicate the euphoric feelings which opiates deliver, without the accompanying damage and danger.
They found that specialized receptors in your cells, located primarily in your spinal cord and brain, block pain signals when endorphins are released. And endorphins are delivered when you exercise, workout, or eat hot peppers and some chocolates. Even when you have sex. Consider endorphins as your own private narcotic which is natural and healthy.
Unfortunately, even though this natural depression defense system can’t wait to go to work to improve your mood and make you feel happy and fulfilled, usually when you are depressed, working out or exercising is often the last thing on your mind.
Just remember how good you felt the last time you exercised. Those “feel good” brain chemicals which are released, endorphins, ease depression, and actually reduce the bad immune system chemicals in your body which can worsen depression. As you exercise, your body temperature rises, which gives you a calming effect. And emotionally, you gain confidence as you feel better and see your exercise goals and challenges achieved and overcome.
Endorphins are naturally released because of your inherent fight or flight response. Your brain thinks that your intense physical state may mean that you have to defend yourself. Because of this, your pain receptors are blocked, and your mood is enhanced. And all these powerful, positive mood boosters need is a little exercise to get them started.
Feeling down? Rather than doing nothing and miring in your blue mood, go for a jog, practice Pilates or yoga, lift some weights, or just turn up the music and dance. The endorphins released by your physical exertion and exercise will have you feeling happy and positive in no time.