Are humans naturally against exercise? In some ways, yes. While our bodies have evolved to function better with regular physical activity, our minds have evolved to move only when necessary or pleasurable and to conserve energy when possible. Our instinct to avoid moving, combined with the fact that most of us don’t need to move much anymore, is a big problem.
One of the main reasons people say they don’t exercise is lack of time. Yet the average person spends about three hours a day watching television. Most of us have no problem making time for the things we love to do. Avid athletes look forward to training because they report feeling great, both during and after training. In light of this difference, one wonders: why doesn’t everyone train? Lieberman explains why.
Dopamine is a feel-good chemical secreted by our brain’s reward system that is activated in relation to certain experiences, such as food, sex, and exercise. But dopamine levels only increase when we exercise, they don’t motivate us to start our workout. In addition, dopamine receptors are less active in people who are not physically active on a regular basis: obese people have fewer active dopamine receptors.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel pleasure, control our impulses, and sleep better, among other things. Exercise increases serotonin levels, which is why exercise is as effective as medication for depression. But people who aren’t physically active can have less serotonergic activity, making it difficult to motivate them to work out — in other words, a vicious circle.
Endorphins are our body’s natural opioids, they relieve pain and make exercise more comfortable. Endorphins may play a role in exercise addiction and their effects can last for hours after a workout. But it takes 20 minutes or more of intense exercise before you start producing endorphins, so people who do short, less intense workouts may never even get to the point where endorphins are produced.
Endocannabinoids are the natural version of the active ingredient in marijuana and are produced by our bodies. While we thought endorphins were responsible for the “runner’s high”, recent research using opioid blockers shows that endocannabinoids play a much bigger role in getting that feeling of relaxation, happiness and zen. you feel after a long period of intense exercise. Little research has yet been done on endocannabinoids and exercise, but scientists suggest that at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise, at 70-80% of maximum heart rate, is likely needed to trigger the release. mood-enhancing chemicals. .
If you want to start feeling good during and after workouts, you’ll need to go through a period of time where your brain and body will adapt to be more physically active. Gradually, you will begin to experience the mood-enhancing and stress-reducing effects of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and endocannabinoids.
While waiting for that feeling of well-being to kick in, Lieberman has some tips on how to incorporate exercise into daily life:
➡️ Make exercise a social activity, whether it’s with a friend, a trainer or a group class.
➡️ Enjoy music, podcasts or TV while you work out.
➡️ Train outside in a place you love.
➡️ Do fun workouts like dancing or doing sports.
➡️ If you tend to get bored doing the same activity, change up your routine often and try different types of workouts.
➡️ Reward yourself for your training.
➡️ Find a way to engage regularly – schedule workouts with a friend or trainer.
➡️ Make exercise a non-negotiable part of your regular routine and make it easy (pack your workout clothes the night before and join a gym near your workplace).
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