Why running makes you happy

Mirjam Steunebrink
Mirjam Steunebrink Vrijdag, 2 oktober 2015
Why running makes you happy

You know the feeling: an intensely satisfied and sometimes even high feeling during or after running? Where does that feeling come from? It has to do with the production of endorphins, the so-called happiness hormones. Sports doctor Mirjam Steunebrink explains the effect of endorphins and reveals five important effects.

Endorphins are responsible for feeling happy after physical activity. This happiness molecule was discovered in 1975 and acts like opiates. A natural drug that gives a feeling of well-being and euphoria and provides a feeling of serenity and strength. The happiness hormones are produced and released by the brain, by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to be precise. The substance is formed during exercise, but also for many hours afterwards. They then spread throughout the central nervous system, through the bloodstream and into tissues, ending up all over the body.

How much endorphins?

How much endorphins your brain produces depends on many factors. Such as the type of sport you do, the duration of the effort, but also the intensity of the effort. To release an optimal amount of endorphins, research has shown that you should exercise at a comfortable pace for at least 30 to 45 minutes. This is the pace at which you can still talk. You can produce up to 5 times more endorphins than at rest. So when you flop down on the couch because you are really too tired to train. Then from now on the above knowledge is enough to go, right?

Five important effects of endorphins

1. Endorphins have an antalgic effect and this increases the pain threshold. This effect lasts up to 4 hours after exercise. As a result, you feel less muscle pain and other complaints and you can run longer. This has the adverse effect that you also experience alarming signals such as injuries less well. So be critical of what you feel before and especially well after running.

2. Due to the effect of endorphins on the heart and respiratory system, you are less likely to get out of breath and you can maintain a more intensive effort for longer.

3. Endorphins have an anti-anxiety effect and thus reduce negative emotions and feelings. This in turn reduces stress. To achieve this, you must train for at least 20 minutes at 70% of your maximum heart rate.

4. Endorphins have a proven antidepressant effect, it is a natural means to improve your mood.

5. Endorphins strengthen the immune system and are therefore good for your resistance.

Love, smile en chocolate

In addition to intensive exercise, you can also get your daily dose of endorphins in other ways. For example, by being nice to someone else. Or by inserting a yoga or meditation session. Laughter is also a magic bullet for increasing endorphins. If you like spicy food, you're in the right place. Spicy components in hot peppers and similar foods activate the pain receptors in the mouth, which release endorphins. And dark chocolate also boosts endorphins. This is due to the flavonoids in the cocoa powder and dark chocolate. Then go for products that contain at least 70% cocoa.

Mirjam Steunebrink
Geschreven door

Mirjam Steunebrink

'Mirjam Steunebrink (45 jaar) is sportarts bij het Martini Sportmedisch Centrum in Groningen. Daarnaast is zij bondsarts bij het langebaan schaatsen, waarbij zij meegaat naar internationale wedstrijden. Zelf is zij gepassioneerd (ultra/berg)loper en momenteel in voorbereiding voor een halve Ironman voor KiKa