The Runner’s High

How Exercise And Endorphins Can Change Your Mood

By Katie Kannapell Ryser

I’m sure many would agree with me that the hardest part of working out is not the actual workout; it is simply getting to the gym. It’s waking up an hour earlier to squeeze in a workout before heading in to the office or making time to stop in for class on your way home.

However, once your heart starts pumping, you begin breathing heavily and the sweat starts to build, the struggle to get there in the first place feels irrelevant.

Take runners, for example. Dedicated runners swear by the “runner’s high”: the feeling of pure bliss you get after a run that makes pounding the pavement for miles worth it. I am no longer a runner. Nowadays when I go for a run, my body aches well past the duration of the run, and as my husband says, “The juice isn’t worth the squeeze, babe.” This is part of the reason I opened CycleBar – to create a place where everyone can experience this workout high, which essentially guarantees to improve your mood.

What exactly is this runner’s high? When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body and diminish the perception of pain. When you leave a workout feeling like you can conquer the world, that is actually endorphins being released into your body and interacting with the receptors in your brain.

If working out causes your body to release chemicals that reduce stress, increase energy and boost self-esteem, why do people dread going to the gym? The answer for me is simple: life. With a busy work schedule, running around with kids, spending time with our significant others and everything else life throws our way, it can be hard to stop and use this time for yourself.

The other day, I decided to treat myself to a massage. I was trying to enjoy the calming music and let the stress melt away from my body, but my brain would not shut off. I kept running through scenarios of things I needed to do, phone calls I needed to make and emails I needed to answer.

To me, the distraction that exercise brings is what makes working out so important. When clients enter our studio, they put their phones in a locker and leave them alone for an entire class. For most, it is the one time of the day when they can completely disconnect, unplug and live in the moment.

Whatever you do, whether you’re lifting heavy weights or just trying to feel your heart race in your chest, your workout is exactly that – it is yours; your time to find that peace, that stress relief and that positive energy. Let the endorphins take hold of you and see how much better you feel. VT