Sunday, February 12, 2012

That Heady Feeling

Frankly, I’ve never been one to understand why people take recreational drugs. The positive effects last but a minute. Gradually, you start to lose focus, crave more and more, and lose brain cells until you can’t function normally. What’s a healthy alternative? Exercise!

I know, I know, that sounded kind of bad. But let’s look at this objectively. Both exercise and recreational drugs have similar biochemical effects in your brain. Both stimulate the release of dopamine and can change the way the brain is wired. The brain has been proven to be the pleasure powerhouse of the whole body, and so anything that makes you feel good usually has something to do with your brain.

What is even freakier? In the 70s, when running started becoming this big phenomenon, scientists claimed that running and sex produced the same high as morphine, and so it was technically possible to be addicted to either one. Runners were known to experience a natural high, and some people had to keep pushing their bodies hard to experience an even greater high.

However, in recent times, scientists have dumped the theory that exercise is bad because it could be addictive. The positive benefits it brings to our bodies nullify any claims connecting the effects in our brains to hard drugs. This is not to say you don’t get a high from exercise, because you do. But you get a healthy high. What could be better?

It has been proven that people who exercise are generally happier and feel better about themselves. A lot of psychologists have started to dabble with exercise treatments for depression, drug addiction, and ADHD for this very reason.

In fact, researchers have said that when they tried exercise as a treatment for drug addiction, the addicts were found to be less likely to take drugs after they’ve exercised. Could it be because they are getting their high from exercise already? Or could it be that exercise is helping fight the withdrawal symptoms? I’m not sure what the answer is. But what was it that Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde? (Yes, I take very serious life advice from Legally Blonde) “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make happier people. Happy people don’t just kill their husbands.” Endorphin is short for "endogenous morphine".

In my experience, exercise makes you even more tolerant, more sedate, and more in control. You’re more tolerant because you feel good, you’re more sedate because endorphins diminish the perception of pain, and you’re more in control because exercise makes you more aware of your body. If all that comes with feeling happier, I say bring it on!

Cheers Eights& Weights!

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1 comment:

  1. I have taken up running. I plan to do a 5k and a 10k before the year ends. I must say from my little experience with the runners high that exercise could be an excellent replacement addiction.


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