5 of the Best Exercises to Increase Endorphins
Most of us have heard exercise does a lot more than just burn calories. It can also promote a good cardiovascular system, increase muscle mass, raise the rate of your metabolism and boost your endorphins.
What Are Endorphins?
People often hear about how it’s desirable to get an endorphin boost, but might not know exactly what that entails. Endorphins are types of chemicals called neurotransmitters that get released as a response to stimuli. Endorphins interact with cell receptors in the brain that reduce pain and control your emotions. As such, an endorphin boost could result in stress relief and the reduction of bodily discomfort.
Using Exercise to Get an Endorphin Boost
Doing things like eating chocolate or laughing heartily could raise your endorphin levels. Here, though, we’re going to focus on stimulating endorphin production through exercise.
Physicians often prescribe exercise to fight anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Some participants get especially advantageous effects when working out with others, since being in a group could increase their enthusiasm.
People take part in highly personalized and varied activities during their quests to get fit and feel good in their bodies and minds. The things individuals do for fitness reasons range from tennis to swimming and countless others. Generally speaking, all kinds of exercise could cause an endorphin uptick to some degree.
However, when trying to boost your endorphins, researchers at the University of Turku have concluded there is a specific type of exercise to focus on for the best results. According to the study conducted at Turku PET Center, high-intensity interval training — HIIT — is the best for increasing the amount of opioid peptides in your brain, which boosts your endorphin release.
Increased levels of opioid peptides and endorphins in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions means a better mood. Researchers even believe consistent endorphin release during exercise is an important mechanism in supporting exercise motivation and maintenance. So, the more HIIT exercises you do, the more you’ll want to keep doing them.
If you’re wondering how to work out using the HIIT method and what routines work best, here are five exercises that are sure to boost your endorphins and get your heart pumping. Try incorporating them into your typical routines to mix things up a little and increase your chances of feeling an endorphin boost.
Putting more variety than usual into your workouts ensures you won’t get bored. New movements also target muscles you may not have been using sufficiently during the other exercises you do. Let’s get started.
1. The Box Jump
You may be wondering how to work out using the HIIT method, and if so, don’t worry. It’s not as complicated as some people think.
High-intensity interval training means a concentrated interval of hard exercise followed by an interval of rest, versus one long interval of moderate- to low-intensity exercise. Because HIIT follows a pattern, you may find yourself naturally falling into a pattern that makes you continually anticipate the next interval — even if it’s not the one that lets your body rest.
The box jump works your whole body, being a nearly full hip extension as you jump into the air and use your arms to tap your knees while you’re elevated. Make sure the box you use is broad enough to provide you with a solid surface for landing.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly back from the box. When you’re ready to make the move and increase the likelihood of an endorphin boost, lower your body into a quarter-squat position. As you progress into the hip extension mentioned above, swing your arms and make sure you push your feet down firmly into the floor.
This exercise is great for increasing your endorphin levels because of its high intensity and concentrated engagement.
Biking engages your core and legs in a unique way, and it’s easy to intensify by adding weight to your pedals and increasing the incline on your machine. If biking through a residential area, challenge yourself to tackle hills and harder terrain to make the most of your HIIT exercise and to produce the most endorphins.
It’s also worth seeing if your community has well-marked bike paths. In that case, you might decide to make biking your primary source of transportation. Then, you’ll certainly burn more calories than you would while sitting in a car to get from place to place, plus potentially get an endorphin boost from the activity.
Perhaps you feel happiest when biking is an experience you share with others. There might be a biking group in your area that regularly meets to enjoy the local scenery while riding and caps off their experiences with socializing at a restaurant or coffee shop.
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3. Kettlebell Swing
If you’ve never tried a kettlebell, now is the time. Try crunching while holding a kettlebell between your legs and swinging it up when you extend your legs. You are not only working your thighs and glutes during your squat, but you are also engaging your core, arms and calves by keeping your body and the kettlebell balanced.
There are lots of other exercises to try using a kettlebell, too, so feel free to get creative and find the one you think challenges you the most. If you work out with a kettlebell at a gym, look around and see how other people use them. Alternatively, flag down a trainer and see if they’ll give you a few suggestions to diversify your time with a kettlebell.
As a three-step, highly engaged exercise, if man-makers don’t make you grow hair on your chest, nothing will. They are an excellent candidate to add to your high-intensity circuit, with intervals of rest in the middle.
You begin in a push-up position, holding two weights in your hands. Row one arm at a time and then perform a push-up. Jump to your feet in a squatting position, then raise the weights above your head and push your body to stand up straight in the final position.
While running long distances at a consistent speed may sound like a total bore and waste of time, sprinting multiplies the amount of endorphins you produce and is even entertaining and more engaging to do.
When sprinting, run as fast as you can, without compromising your running form, for 30 seconds. Then, straighten up, walk for 30 seconds and repeat. On your first day, you might start out with only 10 reps of this workout, and even that amount might give an endorphin boost. In a few weeks, you might be able to double that amount and reap more benefits.
HIIT workouts are an excellent way to improve your fitness level while boosting those endorphins. Give one or all five of these exercises a try and watch your body and mood improve.
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