Mood Elevating Hormones are nature's fix for exercise resistant people!
The Magic of Movement.
Why Exercise Stimulates Mood Elevating Hormones
By Jeannie Brown
Even the most seasoned athlete has days like the one I was having. The traffic on the way to the gym was bad and the errands I had planned to do on my way to my workout had remained, for an assortment of reasons, unaccomplished. To top it all off the wind blew a stack of important papers into the gutter as I opened my car door. Out of sheer frustration, I was seriously considering bagging my workout. I told myself that my foul mood would inhibit me from having an effective workout. I skillfully reasoned that missing this one workout would not hurt anything in the grand scheme of things. After all, I had worked out enough that week. I must say I was quite convincing. Being a trainer for so many years, I have heard my clients offer similar narratives explaining why they were not able to come to a scheduled workout session, or were not able to comply with their nutrition plan. I have indeed heard it all. My “inner child” was trying to hustle me. Fortunately, it didn’t work. The adult in the room, the part of me that knew better, prevailed. So I marched into the gym, and told myself that if my spirit didn’t lift after a 15 minute warm up, I would allow myself to leave. So I climbed onto a piece of cardio equipment, chose a speed to match my energy level, and began. Once I settled into the movement, I could feel my mood shifting. As I continued to pedal, my brain began releasing those “feel good hormones” (endorphins, dopamine and serotonin) and cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids). My mood mysteriously lifted and I went on to complete a full and satisfying workout. Why does this “magic” happen? Is it unique to someone like me who has exercised for years? Or is it a hard wired biological response to rigorous movement? The answer lies in our ancient ancestry.
Hunter gatherers of 100,000 years ago traveled many miles a day while hauling all kinds of weight. People back then were muscular monsters compared to the average U.S. citizen of today, according to Dr Colin Shaw of Cambridge University’s Phenotypic Adaptability, Variation and Evolution Research Group. Humans lived for eons as hunter gatherers and their bodies learned to adapt and thrive under these demanding conditions. These adaptations have remained and are passed down in our DNA. This adaptive wiring is in every cell of the very tissue that every one of us is made up of. The human body is literally programmed for vigorous activity whether you are currently a couch potato, or someone who has learned to embrace exercise.
Now for the “magic”part. Nature is no fool. Humans don’t want to do what doesn’t feel good. So, Infused in our DNA is a change in brain chemistry once you start moving. Exercise creates the ideal environment for the transmission of those natural “feel good” hormones that have kept us moving for centuries, no matter how much we resist it.
When I decided to walk through the doors of the gym and promised myself I could leave after just 15 minutes of exercise if I wanted to, the “adult” part of my brain was telling my rebellious inner child to trust in my DNA infused magic, and the rewards will come. And they came, compliments of Mother Nature! My years of exercising regularly has taught me one fundamental truth. I ALWAYS feel better after exercising. Granted, I had to play a few Jedi mind tricks in order to kick myself through those doors. But once I got in there and got moving, a miracle happened...I wanted to move! That’s nature’s magic.