What is the Best Exercise to Lose Weight?

Are you trying to lose weight?

Best exercise to lose weight scale

Would you like to know the best exercises you can do to accomplish that goal?

best exercise to lose weight running

best exercise to lose weight spinning

best exercise to lose weight cardio

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Well here’s your chance!

best exercise to lose weight Bob Bateson We’re working with fitness expert Bob Bateson to write an eBook that finally answers this commonly asked question: “What is the best exercise to lose weight?” This book will be a great resource filled with information that is sure to help you accomplish your weight loss and body transformation goals. With close to 30 years of helping tens of thousands of people change their lives and transform their health, Bob will help us provide readers with a clear concise guide to shedding body fat, understanding their bodies, and we’re sure he’ll dispel a few weight loss myths along the way. If you have specific questions regarding this topic that you’d like us to answer please submit them using the form below and we’ll try to answer them in the book. We’ll also send you an email letting you know when the book is complete. If your questions are used in the book we will send you a link to download the book for FREE (The book is expected to sell for $29.99 USD).

What is the best exercise to lose weight?

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How to give yourself a nail salon quality pedicure at home

pedicure finished toes - spa alexis

While there is no substitute for getting a professional pedicure, sometimes this just isn’t possible due to time or budget constraints. This made us wonder, is it possible to give yourself a salon quality pedicure at home? To answer this question we turned to our friend Alexis Luczak, owner of Spa Alexis in Buffalo, New York. She agrees that there are some aspects of a professional pedicure that are difficult to duplicate at home – for example the ability to just sit back in a chair and relax while someone else takes care of you – but she says it is still possible to give yourself a good pedicure.  We had Alexis walk us through a pedicure so that we could break it out into steps that you can follow at home.

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Supplies.

You are going to need some supplies to complete your pedicure and you will want to be sure that they are available and in reach BEFORE you get started.

What you’ll need:

Now that you have all of the necessary supplies, let’s get started.

Step 2: Soak Feet.

pedicure foot soak - spa alexis buffalo
Fill foot soaking tub with warm water,  liquid soap, Epsom salt, and essential oils (eucalyptus, spearmint, and lavender are good choices to help relax) and soak feet for approximately 5 minutes to help soften nails and calluses.

Tip: If you have thicker nails you can add a cap full of Listerine Original (The amber color) to the foot soak to help soften them.

Step 3: Remove existing nail polish.

pedicure remove nail polish - spa alexis

Using a cotton ball and acetone remove any existing nail polish that might be present on the nails. For stubborn polish spots simply hold the cotton ball on the area for a few seconds and it should easily wipe off.

Step 4: Cut Nails.

pedicure cut toe nails - spa alexis

Lift your leg bringing your foot toward you then cut your nails to the desired length using the toenail clippers.

Important: Do not lean over to cut your toenails. This creates a poor perspective and can lead to an uneven cut. Also be sure to cut your nails straight across -you will use a file to round them later if you prefer – cutting them on angles increases the likelihood for an ingrown nail…OUCH!!!

Step 5: Push Back Cuticles.

Use the cuticle pusher (bamboo stick) to push cuticles back. Don’t worry about removing them at this point – you will take care of that in a couple of steps.

Step 6: Files Nails.

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Starting with the sides of your nails first use the nail file to file each nail down and around leaving the edges smooth and creating your desired shape.

Step 7: Apply Cuticle Oil

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Apply cuticle oil (or olive oil) to each nail. This will help soften and nourish the cuticles.

Step 8:  Buff Nails

Using the nail buffing sponge, buff the tops and edges of nails.  You can use the edge of the sponge to clean up any loose cuticle that still remain from step 5.

Step 9: File Calluses

Using the foot file, file calluses and thick skin that has formed on the side of toes, balls of feet, and heels.

Important: Do not file arches of feet and other sensitive areas of feet as this can cause injury. Also do not use “cheese-grater-like” callus tools as these can also cause injury. 

Step 10: Apply Sugar Scrub.

Apply sugar scrub to feet and legs to remove dead skin.

Step 11: Rinse Feet.

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Place feet back in tub and rinse off the sugar scrub.

Step 12: Dry Feet.

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Remove your feet from the tub and dry them off using the towel.

Step 13: Apply Lotion and Massage Feet.

Apply the lotion and massage it into your feet, toes, and legs. Don’t forget to get the area between your toes. This is the step that is much more enjoyable if you can have someone do it for you. So if your significant other or kids owe you any favors, this might be a good way to cash in.

Step 14: Remove Lotion and Oil from Nails Using Rubbing Alcohol

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Wet a cotton pad with rubbing alcohol and use it to remove lotion and oil from each nail.

Step 15: Put on Toe Separators.

pedicure toe separators - spa alexis buffalo

Put on toe separators with the openings facing down. According to Alexis, a lot of people make the mistake of putting them on the opposite way which requires them to have to lift their feet to remove them and increases the likelihood that they will hit their nail on something in the process.

Step 16: Apply Base Coat.

Apply a base coat to nails before applying polish. The base coat contains vitamins and nutrients that help keep the nail healthy as well as providing a protective layer that prevents the nail from becoming discolored. The base coat also helps the polish set.

Step 17: Apply Nail Polish.

Prepare the nail polish by either tapping it on the palm of your hand or rolling the bottle between your hands. Alexis advises that you avoid shaking the bottle. Using smooth, even strokes apply the polish to each nail ensuring that the entire nail is covered. Don’t worry about going outside the nail, we’ll show you a great technique to clean that up in a minute.

Step 18: Apply Top Coat.

pedicure products - spa alexis

Apply a top coat to the nails to help protect the polish from chipping.

Step 19: Clean Up Nails.

Pedicure Nail Polish Cleanup - spa alexis buffalo

Use the nail cleanup brush and some acetone to remove any polish that may have gone outside of the nails.

Step 20: Apply Drying Drops.

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 Apply drying drops to each nail to help set the polish.

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TADA!!!

Once again Alexis reminds us that there is no substitute for receiving professional treatment, but if you’re in a bind following these simple steps will have your toes looking great and your feet feeling wonderful.

To learn more about Alexis Luczak you can read this article that was published in the Buffalo Business First, visit her website at www.spalexis.com, or stop by Spa Alexis located within the Hyatt Regency Buffalo | 6 Fountain Plaza | Buffalo, NY.

For more great health and wellness information or to learn how we can help your business grow: follow our blog, visit our website, and connect with us on:

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Starting a food journal: being consciously aware of what you are consuming is half the battle.

There is a popular axiom that states, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

CANI Consulting Weight Loss

Many people who are overweight are unaware of what they actually consume on a daily basis. Starting a food journal is one of the simplest and most effective ways to begin making healthy choices. Start by documenting everything that you have eaten over the past couple of days. Be honest; there is no sense lying to yourself.

CANI Consulting Food Journal

A large part of this process is being willing to face the unpleasant realities that we previously ignored. You can do a manual food journal by documenting everything in a notebook or you can use one of the many online food journals or smart phone apps that are out there. I recommend the app because it’s convenient and contains all of the nutritional information, making it very easy to use. The Calorie Counter App by FatSecret.com is a great option, but again there are many to choose from so find one that works best for you. Once you have the app (or a notebook) document each food item and the amount that you eat along with the general time of the day that you ate it (morning, late morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening, late evening). Don’t forget to include your drinks: soda (pop), juices, beer/wine (unfortunately these contain calories too).

Nutrition_Lable

After you have added all of the food items, look at the total calories and nutritional values for each day, if you are doing it the old-fashioned way and using a notebook, you will have to manually look up the nutritional information for each item and do some math; either way the results may surprise you. The most important part of this exercise is becoming aware of what you are putting into your body. Armed with that information, you can begin to make some changes.

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It’s not a stretch…to say this is a must read blog!

Originally posted on: The Fitness Defined Blog by Bob Bateson

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……………….

Nothing beats or feels better than a good stretch and there are a number of benefits that we receive from stretching our muscles. So it is definitely something that we should all be doing; however did you know that there are certain types of stretches that, although they feel good are failing to produce the desired results?

In fact, right now you can probably observe individuals that are engaging in stretching exercises that may be counterproductive for the activity that they are preparing to perform.  Case and point,

this guy:

Or this girl:

Ok, so I guess you don’t have to be a genius to figure out that besides their choice of clothing, these two subjects might be doing a couple of other things wrong.  But what about this next guy who is preparing to go for a run?

While this stretch looks good and is quite common (in fact, you may currently do something similar before your runs), has he prepared the proper stretching strategy for the activity that he is about to perform?

Bob, did you just say the proper “stretching strategy?”

That is correct, no different than any other activity (and arguably more important) you must have a well planned stretching strategy that uses the proper modalities to ensure that your body is prepared for the task at hand.  In a pre-workout stretch, it is important to activate the muscles, tendons, and joints (we’ll call these “MTJ” through the rest of this article); preparing them for activity. By stimulating the MTJ properly the brain is activated and sends a message to the MJT that says, “Hey get ready we have some work to do!” Before your workout it is important to choose the correct modality of stretching because there are stretches that can have the opposite effect and rather than preparing the MJT, they can cause the brain to send a message that says, “Ok we’re done with our activity now, let’s shutdown and relax.” Let’s explore these modalities so that we make sure that we are sending the right message.

There are basically two types of stretching modalities that I will discuss within this article: static and dynamic.

Static stretching includes active, passive, and isometric techniques. This is the type of stretching that we see our runner doing in the picture above, it involves holding positions that apply steady tension to a specific MTJ for periods of 15-30 seconds at a time.

Dynamic stretching uses movement to stretch or stimulate the MTJ.  This type of stretching will usually incorporate a typical sports movement into the stretch. For example a lunge with a trunk rotation at the end or perhaps a high knee kick into a lunge (this one would actually be a good stretch for our runner because it would serve to loosen up and activate his hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and glutes). Ultimately this type of stretching can be any type of movement that applies tension to the MTJ while remaining engaged in a controlled motion.

Other stretching modalities that you should be familiar with:

Ballistic stretches are similar to dynamic stretches in that they involve movement; however the movements are not as sport-specific and are performed at a much faster rate.  An example of a ballistic stretch would be rapidly crossing your arms back and forth in front of your chest.This activates the MTJ and increases the synovial fluid to the joint. (This is the equivalent of your body’s natural grease and it helps prevent damage by ensuring that your joints are properly lubricated for the activity at hand.)  This is typically used just prior to an activity that will require a heavy load on the MTJ. It is important to note that this type of stretch is not always recommended as the rapid movements can result in injury if not properly performed.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (What a great term! Use that at your next party for instant credibility) more commonly referred to as PNF is the best modality we have for rapidly increasing flexibility. PNF begins by getting the MTJ into the maximum capacity of a static stretch (put simply, this is the limit to how far the MTJ can be stretched without causing excruciating pain) and then applying a contraction to the muscle being stretched for a period of 7-12 seconds. The muscle is then fully relaxed and set back into the maximum static stretch position, but with increased force this time. This process of stretch, contract, relax is then repeated as necessary. There should be a considerable and immediate increase in the range of motion that can be observed in the MTJ after each round.

OK great, so now we have a good understanding of the different types of stretches and more importantly you have a clear picture of the difference between a static and dynamic stretch; Let’s now discuss when to use each.

Before your workout you want to engage in dynamic stretches and ballistic stretches. These are great at effectively getting blood flowing to the muscle and allowing the MTJ to prepare for the upcoming activity. As I mentioned earlier, they activate the brain to send the “hey get ready!” message to the MTJ.

After your workout is complete is when you want to engage in more MTJ specific static stretches. These stretches actually alert the brain to sends the “ok we’re going to take it easy now” message to the MTJ allowing them to relax. Doing this type of stretch before activity can actually have a negative impact on athletic performance. Especially those sports that require an explosive muscle response, such as sprinting, jumping, etc. Please don’t confuse this statement and think that I am “down playing” the importance of static stretches in any way.  It is an important part of the recovery process that ensures that the MTJ relax, which creates an ideal opportunity for increasing flexibility and recovery.

So let’s get back to our runner who appears to be doing a static quad stretch.  Although this stretch feels amazing, he may find that it is a better choice for after his run.  Before his run he should be doing dynamic stretches like the example I provided earlier or a one-legged hop/high knee raise. (please note, that the “hop” is more of a ballistic movement) This will help him avoid injuries and ensure that the MTJ he will use during his run are primed and ready for optimal performance.

You now have enough knowledge to begin to design your own stretching strategy.  If you have limited flexibility right now, just keep stretching.  Remember your results are only limited by what you’re willing to put into it.

Also, I only briefly mentioned PNF in this post. The reality is that this is a very complex and effective modality that incorporates some fascinating science in increasing your flexibility.  I will be dedicating an entire post to this one subject in the very near future. Plus we get to introduce more cool terms like Golgi (Goal-Ge) Tendons, so you’ll definitely want to read it because it is sure to improve both your flexibility and your Words With Friends score.

Stay healthy,

Bob

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3 Fitness Myths Preventing You from Accomplishing Your Goals

Are these common fitness myths may be preventing you from accomplishing your goals?

Fitness Myths True False

The internet is filled with free workout videos, exercise videos, fitness books, etc. that provide advice about fitness and how to drop a few pounds. Like anything, some of the information is credible and some of it not so much. Unfortunately sometimes the false information becomes so pervasive that it actually comes to be accepted as fact by many people. Our friend and fitness expert Bob Bateson refers to these as fitness myths and he loves debunking them whenever he gets the opportunity. With more than 25 years working in the fitness industry, Bob often finds himself setting the record straight on a number of these myths. These are the three that he says he encounters most often.

fitness myths scale

Myth #1: Want to lose weight… consume fewer calories.
If you plug your gender and size into most fitness apps, you will probably be given a calorie goal of between 1200-1500 calories per day. Although this might happen to be accurate for you, these numbers are based on average body compositions that are likely different from yours. In reality your calorie goal should be based on a calculation known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This number is assessed by using your specific body composition to calculate the number of calories your body burns at rest in a 24-hour period. Put simply this is the number of calories your body needs to properly sustain life.
This means that if your BMR is 1500 calories and you are only consuming the recommended 1200 calories you are failing to provide your body with enough fuel to make it through the day (if you were resting). While this may seem to be producing favorable results in the short-term, over a period of time your body will begin to store calories in the form of fat to ensure survival.

Bottom Line: The best way to manage your weight is to understand how your body works and to use weight reduction strategies that cut the extra calories that are consumed in addition to your BMR. Which means that you may actually have to take in more calories.

fitness myth body builder

Myth #2: Strength training will make you look like a bodybuilder.
According to Bob, this may be the most common fitness myth that he hears, especially among women. The reality is that it is a big enough challenge for men, who have the added advantage of muscle producing testosterone to help them out, to add that type of muscle mass. Most women simply don’t have the biochemical composition to add enough muscle mass to get “bulky.” This myth often results in people skipping resistance training and doing only cardio (we’ll address that problem next).

 fat vs muscle fitness myths

The simple fact is that lean muscle takes up less space than fat. If you were to look at 1 lb. of muscle compared to 1 lb. of fat you would see that the fat is almost double the size of the muscle. There’s a tremendous difference between a person who weighs 200 lbs. with 5% body fat and a person who weighs 200 lbs. with 30-40% body fat. What’s better is that lean muscle mass helps your body burn more fat, this means that you get leaner.

Bottom Line: Strength training in the endurance work zone (12-15 Reps) will increase lean muscle mass, reduce fat, and have you looking leaner.

Active Lifestyle

Myth #3: You must do more cardio if you want to lose weight.
Although cardio makes you feel as if you got a great workout in and it is definitely convenient (No thinking involved, put on your iPod, set it, and go), the reality is that cardio alone burns fewer calories than weight training. In fact resistance training in the work zone (lifting the maximum amount of weight for a desired number of repetitions) can produce a calorie burn that is 3x’s higher than cardio.

Bottom Line: No, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do cardio. Having a strong cardiovascular system is essential to achieving your fitness goals. However, if your fitness goal is to burn fat, it is essential that you do your resistance training, in the work zone, first and save your cardio for the last 15-20 minutes of your workout.

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Cardio or Resistance Training?

 

 

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Envision Success: How will the new healthy you look, act, and feel?

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Ok so you followed the advice in our post about how to get started on living a healthier life and you’ve made the decision to begin making healthy changes in your life… now what? Now we get to have a little bit of fun and give your imagination a workout.

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Once you’ve decided on health, make it real by envisioning what success will look and feel like. This may seem trivial, but it is an extremely important step in the process. In fact many of the most successful people throughout history have described this step as being fundamental in their process. In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey lists ‘beginning with the end in mind’ as the second habit that all successful people have in common. From professional athletes  to the CEO’s of the most successful companies in the world, Covey found that all of them were able to envision what success would look and feel like early in the process. The same is true for this journey, you must be able to envision the new and healthier you.

Picture yourself living an active lifestyle: hiking, jogging, running around with your kids or grand kids. Picture your new wardrobe and how fun shopping for new clothes will be. Picture yourself exercising and all of the great new friends you’ll make. It is also important that you picture yourself getting started. See yourself throwing out the junk food in your house and replacing it with healthy snacks and foods. See yourself getting up early in the morning to exercise or going to the gym after work. Imagine how empowering those things will be and how good they make you feel. Imagine how great you will feel when your friends and family start to notice your progress and pay you compliments about how great you look. See yourself living and enjoying the life that you deserve.

Now that you have the proper mindset, hold on to that image of your future self and remind yourself of it everyday. When you encounter a setback on your journey, return to that image and remind yourself that it’s just a speed bump on the way to the new and healthier you. When you are struggling to get through a run or a workout, motivate yourself by using the image to remind you of what you are working toward. And always remember this quote from the great  American classic …The Waterboy,

“You can do it!”

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Tipping the Scales: Getting Started on the Journey to a Healthier You

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If you ask most people who are overweight or unhealthy, they will tell you that they want to get rid of the excess weight or start living a healthier lifestyle. However in many cases their aspirations are often followed with qualifying statements such as, “after the holidays,” “at the beginning of the month,” “next week,” “as soon as I finish (fill in the blank),”… Sound familiar?

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The fact is that many of us associate pain or sacrifice with living a healthier lifestyle, so it’s only natural that we will try to postpone that pain as long as possible.  The trick to getting started on the journey to your transformation- immediately–  is to associate more pain with being unhealthy than you do with the process of getting fit.

The tipping point:

When asked how they did it, people who have been successful at transforming their bodies and completely changing their lifestyles often state that they reached a tipping point. A point where the pain of continuing to live an unhealthy lifestyle outweighed (pardon the pun) the pain and sacrifice required to achieve and maintain their health. In many cases the tipping point was a simple event: getting winded walking up the stairs, outgrowing another pair of pants, being unable to play with the kids or grand kids, or simply seeing a holiday picture and finally realizing just how unhealthy they had actually become. While for others it was more serious: a heart attack, or perhaps the death of a friend or family member due to poor health. Whatever the event, no matter how big or small, it caused these individuals to take the most important step in their journey. In that moment, they decided that they were no longer willing to accept their current situation and that they were going to make changes immediately.

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This is the point that you MUST get to if you want to have a truly successful journey. Make a list of the things that you can’t do or that are extremely difficult for you to do as a result of your unhealthy body and pick out the one or two things that you are no longer willing to accept. Think of the pain that these things cause in your life and associate that pain with your unhealthy weight/lifestyle. Now be unwilling to accept this pain for another day and be willing to do whatever it takes to get rid of it. Finally affirm your decision by stating it out loud:

“Starting NOW I will no longer  allow myself to feel like this or suffer from things that are within my ability to control. Starting NOW I will make the changes necessary to conquer this pain and  enjoy the life that I was intended to live.”

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It’s That Time Again…National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM)

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Yes, that’s a real thing. In addition to celebrating Valentine’s Day, Presidents Lincoln and Washington’s birthday, Groundhog Day, and Black History Month; the American Dental Association (ADA) uses February as the month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health.  According to the organization’s website,

developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

During this month parents are encouraged to promote oral health by making an appointment for their children to see their dentist for an annual cleaning and oral exam. Parents and teachers are also encouraged to have conversations and do activities with children that promote oral health. The ADA provides a number of educational resources on their website: http://www.ada.org/5578.aspx

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We all know the importance of oral health and how costly it can be if it’s ignored. With fillings costing more than $100 per tooth and more advanced procedures increasing in cost from there, it is well worth the investment of time and energy to educate our children at a young age to ensure that they have a solid foundation of oral health and hygiene habits.

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Call your dentist to schedule an appointment today.

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Why not you? How this simple question can ignite your company’s marketing strategy.

question

If we keep an open mind as we observe the world around us, it is easy to discover lessons that can be applied to a number of different areas; including the marketing of our business.  Recently in Super Bowl XLVIII the world watched as quarterback Russell Wilson and his Seattle Seahawks dismantled the Denver Broncos. In a post game interview with Wilson he credited his father as a major contributor to his success; saying that he (his father) would always ask him, “why not you?” According to Wilson his father would pose that question as a way of encouraging him to think beyond his perceived limitations. Somebody is going to be the quarterback that leads their team to a world championship; why not you?

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Harrison Wilson left his son with a powerful lesson that can be applied to many areas of life, including content marketing. Everyday we see information being shared, discussed, and referenced on the internet. Whether it’s an Instagram image with a motivational saying on it, a blog post that sparked a debate about a certain topic, a SlideShare presentation that helps us understand a topic better, an educational infographic, or an inspirational YouTube video (like the videos below that we create and customize for our clients); someone had to create that content- why can’t that someone be you?

You are an extremely knowledgeable expert in your field. You are just as capable of creating similar (possibly even better) content to that which is attracting so much attention online. So again I ask; why not you? Perhaps you don’t know where to begin or what you should share. Maybe you don’t feel like you’re a good writer and that is holding you back. Or maybe you simply don’t know how to present your idea. Those are more “details” than roadblocks. Below are 3 ideas you can use to begin creating your own custom content to share with the world:

1. Answer the questions you are most often asked.

  • Being a professional, it is likely that you are asked a number of questions about your field everyday by your patients,clients, family, and friends. Truth be told, you probably even get asked questions by strangers as soon as they learn what you do professionally. Over time, you might notice that many of these individuals are asking very similar questions. Rather than getting annoyed that you have to keep on repeating the same thing over and over again, consider using those questions as the topic of the content that you will produce.

2. Teach don’t preach.

  • Regardless of the way that you choose to present the content, it is important to remember that people don’t typically want to receive a lecture. Your purpose is to educate your audience, so be sure to engage with them using a dialogue that is clear, concise, and conversational. Selecting a topic that you’ve previously discussed with individuals should make this task easier for you. Pretend you’re speaking to one of those individuals directly through your content.

3. Experiment with different mediums for your content.

  • Find new ways to engage with your audience and make it easy for them to share your content and promote your services to their friends and family.
  • Write a blog. WordPress is an excellent and easy to use platform to get your started. (Did I mention that it’s free?)
  • Create a YouTube video. Most phones and computers come standard with built in video cameras. Hit record and speak your response into the camera. Then upload the video to YouTube and share it with the world. CAUTION: Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure no embarrassing scenery or extras make unwanted cameos in your video.
  • Combine a concise version of your response with a dynamic stock image or better yet a custom image from your business. Use a photo editing program to overlay the text on top of the image to create a new original image that can be shared on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Remember there are people out there that are creating the content that gets shared everyday. In many cases these individuals are not any more qualified to speak on these topics than you are; the only real difference between you and them is that they do it.  People will continue to seek out and share the advice and guidance of trusted experts. Someone has to be that expert; why not you?

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Why does exercise make us feel so good?

This is your brain on the couch

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This is your brain on exercise

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ANY QUESTIONS?


Depending on your age,  you may or may not be familiar with the above reference. Throughout the 90’s there was a popular public service spot that showed a person holding up an egg and saying, “this is your brain.” They would then crack the egg into a hot frying pan and say, “this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?” It was a simple but powerful spot that effectively demonstrated that doing drugs causes harm to the brain. Since that time technology has advanced to a point where functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has allowed us to capture actual images of how the brain responds to various activities. Using this technology scientists have been able to generate pictures like those above and  uncover the science behind something that we already know; exercise is not only good for us… it makes us feel good too. But why?

Increased Endorphin Levels:

Endorphins are chemicals that our bodies produce in response to various stimuli such as: pain, excitement, love, sex, and (you guessed it) EXERCISE. Endorphins act as neurotransmitters connecting pathways within the brain, blocking pain receptors and creating an overall sense of well-being or happiness.  The term endorphin is actually derived from the words endogenous (created internally) and morphine (an opium-based narcotic typically used for pain relief) which provides further insight into the effects that endorphins have on the brain.

A number of studies have been done that link exercise to increased endorphin levels. One such study was performed by the Department of Health and Sport Science at the University of Richmond, VA. The study found that the endorphin levels in a test group were nearly 39% higher after exercising for 45 minutes. The invorgation and positive sensations created by these high endorphin levels is often referred to as a “runner’s high” and can last for a couple of hours after completion of the exercise.

exercise bike

Increased  Dopamine Levels:

Also contributing to this extended “high” is dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (chemical substances that transfer signals to neurons) that is at the heart of our brain’s reward center. When our body experiences a reward (something  it perceives as good) the neurons release dopamine which then binds with the dopamine receptors on neighboring neurons; quickly spreading the message that whatever we are doing right now is good and we should keep doing it. Typically once the message has been passed, the dopamine is reabsorbed and recycled for future use. Many addictive drugs like cocaine, heroine, and caffeine effect dopamine levels by blocking the removal of dopamine from the communication process. This leaves the neurons overloaded with dopamine and the users feeling a heightened state of pleasure long after the activity is completed and craving more when the dopamine is finally removed.

Dopamine Pathways. In the brain, dopamine play...

Dopamine Pathways. In the brain, dopamine plays an important role in the regulation of reward and movement. As part of the reward pathway, dopamine is manufactured in nerve cell bodies located within the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and is released in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex. Its motor functions are linked to a separate pathway, with cell bodies in the substantia nigra that manufacture and release dopamine into the striatum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A number of studies have shown a positive correlation between exercise and dopamine production. When we exercise the rewards center of our brain is activated and our neurons release a large amount of dopamine. These high levels of dopamine take longer to reabsorb and remain in the synapses longer. This creates a natural effect that is similar to the one created by drugs, where the individual experiences pleasure for an extended period after the activity has been completed.

There are a number of other factors that contribute to our overall  sense of feeling good after exercise, but endorphins and dopamine are two of the primary contributors. Exercising daily ensures that we are at our best: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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