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Exercise and endogenous opioids

Posted by undopaminergic on December 2, 2021, at 11:59:53

Hi all!

So, for many years now, I've been walking a lot. We're talking about hours every day and maybe a couple of dozen or more kilometres. I guess it has helped me stay in shape better and probably manage my weight without having to reduce my food intake. I haven't, however, noticed much, if anything, of the mental health benefits I keep reading and hearing about.

What's new is that in the past 12 days or so, I've been jogging or running intermittently during my walks. I seem to be running more and more frequently and for longer. I normally reach heart rates of up to 130 bpm, with some peaks up to a little over 150 bpm; I'm 43 and my resting pulse is maybe 85-95 bpm. I use nicotine and a beta-blocker (bisoprolol) which both factor into my heart rate regulation.

I like to take notes about my emotional state. For example, I might note in my diary that I'm feeling "good" along with a timestamp. One day I noticed that I was feeling good considerably more frequently. At that time, I wondered if it might be due to endogenous opioids from the more vigorous exercise. I never ever got the so-called "runner's high", but I am wondering if the effects of these opioids can manifest in other, more subtle ways?

In addition to feeling good more often, I've also noticed cognitive improvements. It seems I am focussing better (I have ADHD), and I am less compulsive, eg. I cut short reading a forum thread that I would normally read in full for no good reason, and I'm double-checking what I write less than I normally do, which is often needlessly.

So, do you think it's the endogenous opioids at play here? There has been no change in medications. I did however start taking a multivitamin recently. There has been no salient psychologically relevant event as far as I can recall.





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