Sport releases endorphins and makes you happy: Endorphins are among the so-called happiness hormones. They are one of the body's own substances that transmit signals to the brain, which can trigger well-being, positive feelings, joy and other emotions. However, there are many other neurotransmitters and hormones that are part of the happiness hormones and are also released in connection with sport. Sport actually makes you happy - why and how it works physiologically is explained in more detail in this article.
Sport makes you happy – why is that?
During and after Exercise produces different hormones distributed, which, among other things, also act as opponents. This leads to our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems being brought into greater balance. The parasympathetic nervous system provides various signals, including hormones, for relaxation, sleep, activation of the immune system and regeneration processes, among other things. The sympathetic nervous system and its signals keep us awake, increase blood sugar levels in stressful situations, and make us focused and active. The sympathetic mode is the so-called “fight and flight mode”, the parasympathetic nervous system is the “rest and digest mode”.
It is very important for overall physiological and mental health that the two systems are in balance. Unfortunately, this is often not the case these days:
Lack of exercise, poor diet and an unhealthy, stressful lifestyle cause hormones to build up that cannot be released. Internally there is constant stress and too many stress hormones are released that can no longer be absorbed Relaxation hormones and endorphins be balanced.
Dopamine and serotonin are two examples of neurotransmitters/hormones that many people who are under constant stress suffer from deficiencies. More about the two signals follows below. Ultimately, it is important that the imbalance described causes tension and moments of lightness, relaxation and feelings of happiness become rare. Exercise can possibly promote endorphins and certainly other relaxation and happiness hormones.
These sports endorphins push you forward!
Endorphins In addition to the examples of serotonin and dopamine, they are another type of happiness hormone, but like the former they also belong to the so-called peptide hormones, which consist of amino acids formed and consequently are formed from them. This means that it is initially important that the body has enough raw materials - i.e. amino acids - to be able to produce the respective happiness hormones. In addition, the right circumstances must be created so that production or distribution can then occur. For the first requirement there is a sufficiently high one Protein intake A prerequisite, because proteins are broken down into their building blocks, the amino acids, and then used further in the organism. 1.5-3g of protein per kg of body weight is (depending on the goal, genetics and circumstances) what the body needs in terms of protein every day. So if there is enough raw material available, it is now a matter of the right circumstances, which brings us back to the question "Why does sport make you happy?" leads:
During more intensive sports sessions, various hormones are released in larger quantities. During strength training or a longer run, for example, these ensure that you can even start to feel tired all at once Hype feeling and after a while you are much more motivated than when you started. So-called sports endorphins could be the cause. However, since the topic of hormones is very complex, there is disagreement as to whether endorphins are actually responsible during exercise. In fact, a group of endogenous pain suppressants, morphines, could also be the cause of the feelings of happiness during exercise. According to some sources, the connection between exercise and endorphins has not yet been sufficiently researched (1).
Other scientists are sure that Endorphins related to exercise play an important role
Dopamine through exercise & after exercise
In contrast to that Sports endorphins The topic is the hormone or neurotransmitter dopamine that has been researched more clearly in connection with sport: Dopamine is a signal produced by the body that represents motivation, concentration and activity. During the Sports gets dopamine released - higher concentrations of the substance are measured after 20 minutes at the latest. This leads to being motivated and feeling good. It is important to know that during sport (as well as in all other moments) an enormous variety of hormones and signals act together in the body. It is not possible to list all the hormones released during exercise here, partly because we don't yet know everything about their complexity. However, a little more will be explained below. As with sports endorphins, there is still a lot of research going on here. What is clear, however, is that the many signals in the body must be in harmony and all of them must have regular active times and rest periods so that the body is in balance. That sport by pouring out a variety of things Happy hormones happy does, however, has been clearly proven.
Serotonin through exercise & afterwards
A lot also happens after exercise in terms of hormone release: Serotonin is a signal that ensures relaxation and well-being and has a positive influence on sleep and is part of the parasympathetic nervous system. It supports our regeneration and is one of the relaxing happiness hormones. We can feel happiness and joy during activity and also when at rest. If a rest phase occurs after exercise, in which supporting nutrients are useful in many cases, then the optimal circumstances for a serotonin release are present: carbohydrates and certain proteins are the building blocks for the neurotransmitter and a physically calm state is the right prerequisite. Serotonin and other relaxation hormones are then released. Sport makes you happy even after sport and it makes us sleep better.
By the way: Muscle building happens during the regeneration period - i.e. when we are in the parasympathetic nervous system and release serotonin. During exercise, the muscles are only irritated or slightly destroyed, giving them a reason to grow back together afterwards. That's why sleep and enough regeneration are essential for sporting and health goals. Whether during the Sports now endorphins or morphine is irrelevant because it's about the bigger picture.
These sports hormones are released - that's what they're there for
In addition to the happiness hormones dopamine and serotonin and possibly the Endorphins during exercise The messenger substances adrenaline and norepinephrine also play a role in physical performance. Sex hormones such as testosterone and stress hormones such as cortisol can also be mentioned in connection with sport. Many different hormones constantly interact and regulate our anabolic and catabolic metabolism. In the end, what is primarily important is that - whether Sports endorphins , sex hormones, stress hormones, relaxation hormones or growth hormones, which are hormones in balance. When this is the case, our parasympathetic and sympathetic systems are also in balance. This enables us to regularly release happiness hormones, to perform with motivation and to be able to rest. The hormones after exercise and the hormones during exercise greatly support the balance of the two systems.
A lack of exercise, but also an excess of sport, can upset this balance. Exercise sessions that are too long are usually counterproductive for the release of happiness hormones - be it Endorphins during exercise or dopamine .
Conclusion on sports endorphins
There are many various happiness hormones that belong to both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. If Endorphins released during exercise is controversial, but many of the happiness hormones such as dopamine are definitely active during exercise. After exercise, relaxing happiness hormones are produced, such as serotonin. They ensure that the body can come out of a constant state of stress.
For all happiness hormones and other messenger substances, the right circumstances (fight vs. rest) and raw materials such as amino acids, good fats and sometimes also carbohydrates are of great importance.
Especially for athletes or vegans, it can be advisable to consume high-quality amino acid powder during or after exercise in addition to your regular diet so that hormone production works optimally.
1. Spiegel Gesundheit (2014): Why sport makes you happy. [ https://www.spiegel.de/gesundheit/ernaehrung/endorphine-serotonin-flow-warum-sport-gluecklich-macht-a-959763.html ; August 20, 2022].
2. Prof. Markus Stoffe: In: Salus Med online [ https://salusmed.ch/einen-immer-wiederkehrenden-rhythmus-finder/ ; August 20, 2022].