It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I really started to love exercising. And right around 18, I really started to love cooking and baking. Throughout my youth, I was an avid cheerleader and I played the occasional rec softball and soccer (which helped me learn early on, I was just not athletic). I was lanky as a kid, and even well into high school I was a mere 100 pounds. I straight-up lacked athleticism. In high school I continued with the cheerleading and decided to join the lacrosse team. Needless to say, lacrosse and I did not mix. I stopped that after only a year and half because I absolutely dreaded running. And that my friends, is a complete 180 from where I am now.
I loveeee to run. I love to sweat, I love to put on my new Nike sneakers (which I’m sure I’ll blog about in the future), my gym clothes, and just run. Running is my remedy. It took me a while to figure out that running wasn’t a chore, or a demand like it was at practice. Running is now relaxing, a time for me to forget about all the other stuff in my life.
And I won’t lie — there are times when the thought of running is absolutely dreadful. And I do have my days that I would just rather lay on the couch for hours eating a pint of ice cream. But I’ve come to realize (and studies prove) that running helps me snap out of those dreary moods.
It all comes down to endorphins (which come from the words “endogenous + morphine.”): powerful, hormone-like chemicals produced in the brain, and released during such activates as laughing, eating chocolate, sex, and exercise.
When thinking of exercise, endorphins are mostly linked to running, however they are produced during other various aerobic activities. Endorphins help increase pleasure, reduce physical and mental pain, improve your mood, and make you feel better overall. They are also known to boost the immune system, reduce stress, and postpone the aging process.
Endorphins are also linked to the so-called “runner’s high” felt after continuous exercise. A runner’s high lets your mind take over, while your feet are still moving one in front of the other. Endorphins hit a certain point in your workout that make you feel, well, high. Most of the time, this runner’s high is felt after an extensively long run, 20 miles sometimes. But don’t sweat it! Endorphins are produced even during a 45 minutes walk.
Personally, a 2-3 mile run around a lake will instantly boost my energy level and mood. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this sought after runner’s high, but I have experienced times during my runs where I feel like I could run forever.
The amount of endorphins released is different for everyone, and the feeling varies between each individual. But universally, when the feeling of sheer contentment kicks in, we can be sure to thank endorphins (I think Forrest Gump was a very happy man).