Do you know what endorphins are? You know that feeling of complete relief and happiness after exercising or engaging in a pleasurable activity? The main author of such moments is endorphin – a neurotransmitter hormone produced by the pituitary gland. This, along with other neurotransmitters -serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine- is responsible for the chemical reactions that give happiness and satisfaction, both during and after physical exercise. Read on to find out how this hormone works in the body.
Endorphins: what are they and what are they for?
According to nutritionist Tatian Schalitz, endorphins are a hormone secreted by the hypothalamus that acts as an analgesic in the body and promotes a feeling of well-being. The effect of the release of endorphins goes beyond relieving physical suffering, in addition to relaxing muscles, promoting feelings of happiness and improving social interaction. In addition, the hormone has an analgesic effect and is associated with feelings of happiness and good humor. In this way, endorphins reduce the state of stress in the body.
Nutritionist and endocrinologist Gabriela Lima also points out that endorphins, also known as the “happiness hormone“, are associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure, which helps control irritability and stress and improve self-esteem, memory, concentration, focus and even libido.
The body produces the substance naturally, and it is released into the bloodstream along with other hormones, which stimulate the production of cortisol and adrenaline (specifically those that are indicators of stress in the body).
Endorphins and physical exercise: understanding the relationship
In addition to the main function of calibrating your mood, endorphins have other functions. The composition of his name is an inversion of lando (internal) with the word morphine. This means that endorphins, in the true sense of the word, are the body’s natural pain relievers. Thus, the hormone increases motivation to exercise.
Personal trainer Mateus Sarria, a specialist in nutrition and sports psychology, points out that when we exercise, hormones are released during physical activity, which together with neurotransmitters are responsible for helping to regulate sleep and digestion, improve blood pressure and bodily processes, in addition to Provoke a feeling of well-being, happiness and relaxation. In this way, exercise helps increase endorphins, which is a neurohormone, and as a result, endorphins provide the following benefits:
- Cell growth
- Burn calories
- Improved sleep
- Low cholesterol
- Greater physical and mental disposition
- Improved resistance to immunity.
For this reason, the specialist points out that the peak of endorphin production is during this time of exercise, when there is a mobilization of hormones and other substances to keep the body healthy during the activity.
In addition, growth hormone, growth hormone and ACTH are produced, which stimulates the production of adrenaline and cortisol. There is still no scientific consensus on how long it lasts in the body; There are studies that report up to two hours after training, while others claim results of up to 72 hours in strenuous activities, those considered “endurance”, such as bicycle races and long distance races.
How to stimulate the production of endorphins
There are several ways to release endorphins and ensure that the substance is present in the body to promote well-being. Thus, the main stimulating source of endorphins is the regular practice of physical exercise. Walking and frequent visits to the gym are very valuable, but the main recommendation is to choose the method that you like best.
If you don’t like bodybuilding, for example, how about trying other classes, like yoga, dance, or fighting? The important thing is to stay active not only to ensure the production of endorphins, but also to ensure more health, relief and strength for other activities.
“This famous sensation of pleasure that occurs after physical activity is precisely the result of the release of endorphins. However, it should be noted that intermittent training is not enough to release endorphins continuously, which maintain continuous well-being. To do this, we must have consistency in the exercise, the same happens with meditation, including meditation in the routine will increase endorphin levels constantly, ”says nutritionist Tatian.
Other ways to get endorphins and other feel-good hormones
- Eat chocolate or any other type of favorite sweet: It’s no wonder so many people turn to chocolate or any other type of sweet to relieve the stress of the day, right? The reason is that sugar is a trigger for the release of many neurotransmitters such as endorphins. So choose your favorite remedy in situations where you need to improve your mood. But don’t overdo it and opt for healthier versions of your favorite treats.
- Do activities that give you pleasure: It is not just about physical exercise. Taking up a hobby or other task that brings you joy is also a strategy for good chemical reactions in your body. Rejoice and do not spare laughter.
- Reduce your circle of relationships: Spend more time with the people you care about. Human interaction is powerful in generating feel-good hormones, which is why moments of passion and sexual activity are excellent sources of endorphin release.
- Think Positive: Although there is no scientific evidence, it is believed that the synapses that occur when we think of good and positive things favor the production of beneficial substances. Let’s agree that raising the standards of thought is much better to face life, right? So listen to a song that brings back good memories and makes you think of good things.
The benefits of Endorphins
A summary of what this natural pain reliever can do for you.
- It prolongs the moments of happiness and joy.
- Helps relieve stress.
- Strengthens the mind and promotes positive thinking.
- It makes you more prepared to face daily tasks.
- It helps treat depression, which is why experts recommend physical activity and mind-emptying hobbies.
What happens when endorphins are low?
When endorphin levels are low, very common characteristics such as tension, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and the development of depressive symptoms begin to appear. These effects can also affect athletes who do not exercise.
According to nutritionist Tatian, other health problems like fibromyalgia, migraines, and chronic stress also occur due to low endorphin levels.
- Gabriela Lima, Ph.D., Nutrindo Ideales, Bachelor of Dietetics and Endocrinology.
- Mathios Sarria, personal trainer specialized in exercise physiology and graduate in nutrition and sports psychology.
- Tatienne Schalitz, registered dietitian at Nutrindo Ideals.
- Melina López, NutriCilla Clinical Nutritionist. Postgraduate studies in Clinical Nutrition by GANEP.