I recently watched (and I’m not ashamed to say) the film Legally Blonde. The main character Elle Woods is a “blonde bimbo” typecharacter who wants to become a lawyer. One of the famous lines inthe film is:
“Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!”
Other than giving you a perfectly valid alibi in a murder case, this quote could not be any more accurate. We may not be killing our husbands or wives (although sometimes we may come close…) but, have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed, you are in a bad mood or you’re just feeling pretty sluggish and can’t be bothered going for that run or Pilates class? Well, we have all been there.
Some of us may attempt to relieve the everyday stress and anxiety of life in a number of ways through; eating junk food, slouching in front of the TV, smoking, alcohol or even resorting to drugs. All of these represent people’s best attempt at taking their mind off all of their worries.
However, have you ever noticed that if you just drag yourself out of bed and force yourself to exercise, youfeel great afterwards? You’re day just seems a whole lot better and you get that rush of energy. It turns out you are not alone; exercise plays a big factor on mood and mental well-being.
Most of us are aware of what happens to the body physically when we exercise. We build more muscle, more stamina and generally become stronger. We feel how daily activities like taking the stairs becomes easier if we exercise regularly. Not only do you get that increase of energy, physically active people also feel a sense of success in meeting personal fitness goals. You may also feel proud once you show signsof looking and feeling physically stronger after all of those hard working hours on the KX reformer. All of these little things just brighten up your mood! When it comes to our brain and mood though, theconnection to exercise isn’t so clear.
Some researchers argue that exercise may act as a distraction from negativity. Causing your thoughts to drift towards the pain and the effort you are putting into your workout, rather than the direct stress of everyday life. Others believe that physical activity causes the chemical release of endorphins which cause you to feel good after your workout.
When you start exercising, your brain recognises this as a moment of stress. As your heart rate begins to increase, the brain begins to use the “fight or flight” system. This involves producing chemical reactions produced in the body to “fight” off the foreign stress (being exercise) or “flight” to shut your body down. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the central nervous system and pituitary glands. They are said to act as a barrier to block out pain when exercising. It relieves the energy that our body stores during times of stress. The scary part about endorphins is that they have a very similar and addictive behaviour like morphine, heroine or nicotine. The only difference? Well, it’s one drug that is actually good for us!
So, if you have ever wondered why you are hooked on KX and why your mood rises after that morning Pilates class… it may not JUST be those lovely, bubbly instructors brightening up your day, but also the chemicals produced in your body that make it ever so addictive!