Endorphins are neurotransmitters, a form of brain hormones, that help us feel great, give a feeling of pleasure and blunt pain sensations. Endorphins are a natural high, your own natural morphine, without the addiction. In fact, the name “endorphin” comes from a combination of “endogenous” (internal) and “morphine.” In addition to reducing pain sensations, endorphins can give you the feeling of euphoria, making you feel on top of the world, and boost your immune system.
When your body feels stress or pain, it releases endorphins to counter your pain perceptions. When you exercise hard, your body sends out those endorphins.
Do you ever wonder why those people run around the streets of Winter Park at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings? They are endorphin hunters, seeking the runner’s high. Prolonged exercise has been shown to bring on a great dose of natural endorphins.
So if you have been looking for a reason to up your exercise, try the endorphin surge. If building a stronger body, strengthening your heart and bones, easing tensions and burning calories aren’t enough reasons, go for the endorphins.
Endorphins are different for each person. Two people exercising the same amount or with the same amount of pain will have different levels of endorphins. You have to find your own endorphin-loading point.
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Certain foods can also boost your endorphins. That happy feeling after eating some good chocolate? It’s the endorphins cruising through your body. That’s why chocolate (in moderation) can feel like the perfect food in times of stress. (Did you need another reason for chocolate?) On the other hand, you can also up your endorphins with chili peppers — the hotter the better!
Other ways to get those cherished endorphins? Acupuncture and massage therapy are reported to stimulate endorphin secretion. Romance also can yield a potent endorphin release, and pregnancy can create an ongoing increase in endorphins. Meditation is another practice that can up your endorphins. Laughter releases more endorphins, which is why laughter is one of the best medicines!
Who is Lugo?
The Maitland resident is a nurse practitioner and President of Health Action, offering workplace health consulting and nurse coaching. Visit www.healthaction.biz