Endorphins represent a type of opioid compound that is secreted by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. It is released when the body is exposed to various stimulants. Besides analgesia, endorphins can also create a sensation of well-being.
Secretion of Endorphins
As mentioned before, endorphins are released only in the presence of certain stimulants. There are four varieties of such neurohormone polypeptide molecules, namely:
Beta endorphins include 31 amino acids and are secreted during physical effort. Pain and stress are only two factors that determine the release of endorphins, others include:
- Consumption of capsaicin (the active ingredient of chili peppers) and of other spices
- Excitement and laughter
- Orgasm, sexual activities and stimulation of erogenous areas
- Overexposure to light
Learning more about endorphins can even help you lose weight, but for this, you have to understand their mechanism.
Endorphins and Physical Exercises
Weight loss is achieved in two different ways with endorphins. First of all, they are able to decrease the appetite and secondly, they block the pain. This way, you are able to gradually increase both the intensity and the duration of physical exercises.
While performing aerobic exercises or interval training, blood levels of endorphins become 5 times higher than normally. However, in order to reach these levels, you have to make sure that the duration of the exercises exceeds 30 minutes. The intensity of the physical exercises also plays an important role in the secretion of endorphins. A moderate intensity will suffice, but the more it is increased, the more endorphins will be released into the bloodstream.
As mentioned before, exercises of longer duration and greater intensity become easier in time. This happens because the sensitivity to endorphins increases. More than that, blood levels of endorphins are maintained at a high level for longer periods of time. Stress levels are decreased and the mood is improved. All these will soon be observed in your endurance, which will increase.
Keep in mind that not every type of physical exercise promotes the secretion of endorphins. The recommended sports include:
- Cross-country skiing
- Long distance rowing
On the other hand, the Department of Health and Sports Science at the University of Richmond in the United States proved that weightlifting does not affect the endorphin levels.
Endorphins and Acupuncture
The production of endorphins can also be stimulated through acupuncture. Higher levels are achieved when needles are inserted into specific body points. However, the endorphins secreted in this situation are not released into the bloodstream. Instead, in this situation the highest levels are noticed in the cerebrospinal fluid.
It is a known fact that acupuncture can be used as an alternative therapy for losing weight. The nervous system regains its balance and becomes able to decrease the appetite. Acupuncture does not stimulate only the nervous system by releasing endorphins, but it also regulates the activity of certain organs. From this point of view, auricular acupuncture is very efficient, as it is believed that the area surrounding the ear contains points corresponding to the major organs.
In addition, endorphins are able to control the secretion of hormones. Since some hormones are also involved in gaining weight, maintaining their secretion within normal levels can also help you to lose weight.