Having spent a life time enjoying the joy of running or a good walking challenge, the eustress (good stress) that is generated is a major part of my daily personal stress management plan and personal well being program.
The science behind what physical activity does for our bodies has been heavily weighted around the release of endorphins which are a member of the ‘Happy Hormone’ family. That fleeting sense of euphoria and calm that many people report experiencing after exercise has been credited to the release of endorphins into our system. I have heard people say, “I can feel my endorphins are kicking in.” Endorphins are the world’s highly noted peptide, however, their role in creating euphoria with exercise has now been proven not to be the case.
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Our own in-house Drug store dispenses endorphins which are the body’s opiates with receptors and actions much like those of pain-relieving morphine. Endorphins, however, are composed of relatively large molecules, “which are unable to pass the blood-brain barrier,” said Matthew Hill, a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University in New York.
The famed runner’s high it has now been found does not come from endorphins. Neuro scientists are now claiming that the credit is due to endocannabinoids that flood the brain after intense activity. These smaller molecules made up of lipids that have a similar effect on the body as does the active ingredient in marijuana. Receptors in the brain and the body allow these endocannabinoids to bind to the nervous system, and this sets off reactions that decrease pain and anxiety and generally help us to de-stress and feel relaxed.
Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that 50 minutes of hard running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bicycle significantly increased blood levels of endocannabinoid molecules. They found that a widespread group of receptors, clustered in the brain but also found elsewhere in the body act on the nervous system and set off reactions that reduce pain and anxiety and produce a floaty, free-form sense of well-being. These endocannabinoids are composed of molecules known as lipids, which are “small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier.”
Francis Chaouloff, a researcher at the University of Bordeaux in France stated that endocannabinoids produce “pure happiness, elation, a feeling of unity with one’s self and/or nature, endless peacefulness, and inner harmony.”
WOW… the joy of exercise!
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