I’ve just discovered a serious and potentially life-threatening downside to the endorphin rush – that “natural high” or “runner’s high” one gets after exercise: It can make you do things you wouldn’t otherwise do.
Like sign up for a six-week “boot camp” at the gym.
Yet there I was, towel around my neck to catch any missed sweat, scribbling my name on the sign-up sheet, despite the Army-fatigue theme of the display and the fit and healthy folks in the photos, grinning at the camera. No one in those photos looked like me; not even close.
I’d had a great workout, and as I write this, my glutes are letting me know how hard they worked this morning. I felt really good, and as I collected my keys and sunglasses from the locker, I backtracked to revisit the display, located in the center of my gym. Beginning September 14, there are 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a class on Saturdays. Next week, there are 30-minute “teaser” sessions for anyone interested.
I’ll be there for the 6 a.m. Tuesday teaser. Unbelievable.
The trainer teaching the 6 a.m. sessions had just left, but I spoke with the guy doing the evening classes. He talked about how much fun it was – pushing cars, running with heavy sacks, endless push-ups, sit-ups, etc. Each class lasts an hour. Heaven help me.
Endorphins are no joke: Research shows regular physical activity can be as effective as psychotherapy for treating mild to moderate depression. More facts:
· Therapists say that patients who exercise regularly just feel better, and are less likely to abuse food, drugs or alcohol.
· Even just five minutes of aerobic or anaerobic exercise reduces anxiety, stress and nervousness.
· And of course, you’re improving yourself, and that boosts self-esteem.
Endorphins, you probably know, are chemicals produced in the brain that relieve pain, boost the immune system, reduce stress and even slow the aging process. Exercise is one of the ways they’re released throughout the body, but the amount released varies by the individual. You know when you get that second wind? That’s the endorphin rush.
So I’ll try a teaser class or two, but I’ve already signed up, even though it’s $240 for the six weeks. My jaw dropped when I heard the cost, but I was told about some payment options, and signed up, anyway.
Stupid endorphins . . .
Elle Woods: Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. ~ from Legally Blonde (2001)
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.