When you’re having a bad day, the last thing on your mind is to hit the gym. It simply does not make sense to be tired and moody, yet exert physical exercise in order to feel better. Yet, research has shown that working out improves mood and reduces depression. Why is this? What is the correlation between exerting physical effort and mental health?

Endorphins. 

Endorphins are the link.

Endorphins Explained

Endorphins are neurochemicals produced in the pituitary gland in the brain that work in response to pain and to stress. Similar to serotonin and dopamine, endorphins work through the opioid receptors to reduce the body’s response to pain and in return, this is perceived as feeling good. 

There are many things that will cause the release of endorphins from the brain. For a few examples:

  • Eating: Chocolate & spicy foods specifically
  • Meditation: Movement and stillness
  • Laughing: I know, big surprise there
  • Pregnancy and childbirth: Disclaimer: these methods can’t be made into a daily habit
  • Working out: Amp up the intensity with the best pre-workout around.

There are more than 30 different endorphins found in the body.

The most common one is the B-endorphin which is notably known for its role in pain relief. Endorphins work in response to pain. The body works to self-preserve by releasing endorphins which block the pain or “mute” it allowing for normal function.

 Exercise, especially high intensity exercises, are perceived as strain by the body which as a result causes the release of endorphins. The recommended amount of exercise for endorphin release is around 150 minutes of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of intense exercise. 

The only downside to the endorphin high is that it does not last long. The great news however, is that there is no downside to exercising frequently for the endorphin high (excluding ya’ll rhabdo chasers out there). 

Exercises That Get Endorphins Released

1. Aerobics

 

Aerobic exercises come in many forms. At its core, an aerobic exercise is simply any exercise that gets your blood pumping and makes your large muscles work. These include but are not limited to, running, swimming, walking briskly, cycling and even gardening. 

Aerobics improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, raising the good kind of cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar. In addition, aerobics are particularly useful for people who deal with chronic pain. Aerobics are a great way to induce sleep in people struggling with insomnia and more than anything, aerobics is a great way to lose weight. 

2. Yoga

You may be surprised to find yoga on this list. This is largely based on the belief that for any exercise to release endorphins, it has to be intense. Yoga, with all its different poses and incorporated meditation, is an instant endorphin releaser. 

With yoga, there is a reduction in the stress hormone levels of cortisol and a rise in endorphins. This perhaps explains the calming, euphoric effect experienced after yoga. In addition to this, yoga is good for stretching, building mindfulness, and as way to calm both the mind and the body. 

3. Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are one of the oldest exercises in the book. We have all probably done jumping jacks at one point of our childhood. They are simple to do, fun, and are beginner friendly.

What you don’t know about jumping jacks, is that they work many muscle groups at once, boosting weight loss. In addition, jumping jacks are an ideal warm up exercise before jogging or a gym session. 

Jumping jacks help to release endorphins which work to elevate mood and relieve stress. There are many modifications to the classic jumping jack. Some of them being; step jacks, dumbbell jumping jacks and squat jacks. 

4. High Intensity Interval Training

You’ve mostly likely heard of HIIT training, but we’re here to tell you, it’s worth the hype. This is a training technique where the participant gives their ultimate effort in quick intense exercise bursts followed by short recovery (or active recovery) periods. HIIT is well loved because of its ability to raise the heart rate level and maintain that rate. 

HIIT has numerous benefits, some being an increased metabolic rate, a faster effective work out and the fact that it can be done anywhere. 

very basic example of a HIIT session would be 50 sit-ups, 40 jump squats, 30 pushups, 20 split ups, 10 triceps dips and 30 second burpees. All these will be done in quick succession followed by a period of rest or active rest.

 

HIIT is a sure way to get your endorphins high and going. While it may take time to get used to the high intensity nature of HIIT work outs, once you start, there is no going back.

5. Breathing Exercises

This probably sounds too good to be on the list, but yes, breathing exercises have been shown to release endorphins. When you are stressed, or experiencing a panic attack, the body responds by breathing in quick, shallow, erratic breaths. This, coupled with heart palpitations and a dry mouth, signal to the brain that there is strain/pain. 

Taking long, deep breaths slowly in and out helps to release endorphins which in return will help regulate the heart rate, restore normal breathing, and induce calmness. Next time you feel stressed, consider long, deep breaths!

6. Sprinting

Want powerful, defined legs? Don’t feel like losing hours on a treadmill? Try hill sprints! To achieve the most benefits from sprinting, try short fixed intervals! For two examples:

Hill Sprints:

  • Find a hill of appropriate length
  • Perform an all-out sprint (uphill, obviously)
  • Rest: 90-120 seconds
  • Repeat 4-6 times

Track Sprints

  • At a regular track, perform all out sprints for 50-100 meters
  • Rest: 90-120 seconds
  • Repeat 4-6 times

7. Zumba

Zumba is more than showcasing your best moves; that is highly encouraged though. This group exercise boasts a few acceptable benefits:

  • Targets the entire body
  • May build endurance
  • Improves your cardiovascular function

Zumba releases endorphins for two reasons: (1) it is a high intensity work out which pushes the body to it’s limit, and (2) it’s a social activity involving interaction and laughter, the perfect recipe for endorphin release. If you were ever in doubt about signing up for a Zumba class, this is your sign. 

8. CrossFit

CrossFit is a high intensity, functional fitness type exercise. Many people shy away from it because of its emphasis on endurance. Despite this, CrossFit is still very popular within many circles. 

CrossFit is especially beneficial for people looking to gain muscle strength and stamina. It boosts the heart’s ability to pump blood, burns calories, and can aid in weight loss. CrossFit also improves agility, balance, and flexibility of all muscle groups. The high intensity nature of CrossFit qualifies it as an endorphin-booster.

Caveat: If you don’t learn proper form, then continue to attempt compound exercises “for time”, you sorta have whatever consequences that follow coming. Just saying. 

9. Brisk Walking or Jogging

This is ideal for individuals who are not looking for the high intensity nature of the exercises named above for one reason or the other. Brisk walking and jogging are just as good when done correctly. 

For walking to be classified as brisk, there has to be sweat shedding or a rise in heart rate. In addition, the walk or jog should be of a consistent speed at all times. Walking and jogging are very good examples of exercises that boost endorphins. 

You can spice up your jog or walk by incorporating music or your favorite podcast. Hiking is also another way to add an element of exertion to your walk or jog. Jogging can also be incorporated into work-outs as a warm up.

Bonus: A nice walk, even if not brisk, can aid with digestion. Plus, walking doesn’t take a toll on your Central Nervous System; this can be particularly ideal for those who already hit the gym regularly (unlike HIIT, which can lead to diminishing returns)

10. Swimming

Who doesn’t love to swim?! On top of being fun, swimming is calming and often relaxing. A hard swimming work out (4 laps and above without breaks) can unlock large amounts of endorphins into the blood system. Swimming on a regular basis is good for mental health because it promotes the growth of new brain cells, endurance, and relaxation. 

The biggest setback to swimming is that this activity has somewhat of a higher “buy-in” for those without any practice in swimming for fitness reasons. If you fall into that category, the investment is well worth it. You just might have to spend a little more time working up to making it into a truly cardiovascular exercise. 

To Harness the Power of Your Work-Outs: Try Bucked Up Pre-Work Out 

In order to get the most from any of the exercises mentioned above, one hack stands (highlander style) above all others…

Bucked Up Pre-Workout!

Yeah, bet you didn’t see that coming…every supplement in the Bucked Up family delivers an ingredient panel specially curated to enhance your training, accelerate hitting goals, and of course, to empower your endorphins for epic post-workout euphoria (BONUS: Every pre-workout has zero sugar, making them keto friendly).

Whether you go with the Brainiac Pre-Workout, BAMF, with its hyper-focus-causing properties (nootropics), WOKE AF for all the potent stimulants any sane (or insane) person could possibly crave, our flagship formula, Bucked Up, or even our Non-Stim formula, you can’t go wrong. 

If you’re prone to decision fatigue, the idea of four epic pre-workouts could be overwhelming. Don’t worry though. When in doubt, go with one of our fantastic stacks. For example, The Beginner Stack contains a beautifully buff bouquet of supplements:

  • One of our overpowered Pre-Workouts for training maximization
  • Intra-Workouts, like BCAAs, for endurance, delayed muscle fatigue, and accelerated fat loss and recovery
  • Post-Workout Whey protein for optimal muscle recovery, allowing you to feel your best and consistently return to your training rejuvenated and ready to go. and post work out recovery.

This beginner stack can greatly aid in fat loss, delay muscle fatigue, and even boost muscle growth. To learn more, check out this radically informative article.

Embrace the euphoria that follows enhanced endorphin release. Enjoy GAINZ.  

Now go get Bucked Up.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Lask CI Writing Services

As a writer and editor who resides in Orlando, Florida, with over fifteen years of experience within the writing and editing industry, Stephanie has had the opportunity to contribute to a multitude of online blogs and publications. Originally a writer within the field of mental health stemming from her Bachelor's degree in Psychology, she has expanded to various subjects of interest over the years. Stephanie also provides ghostwriting and editing to other authors who require her services.

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