There’s nothing quite like the buzz you get from a great workout – that unique mix of euphoria and calm that’re both relaxing and motivating. Problem is, it’s gone within 20 to 30 minutes. Fortunately scientists are learning fascinating new facts about post-exercise high that can help you prolong it. Here’s how you can enjoy a longer-lasting buzz.
#1 Do something aerobic
Get your heart rate up – but not too high. Research at the University of Arizona found that the body releases endocannabinoids – the lipid molecules that help regulate pain and mood, only when you push your intensity level into the moderate zone. Cardio is what counts. So the sweet spot is 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate, says researcher David A. Raichlen, Ph.D. That means if you barely speak, you’re pushing yourself too hard. Ease up a little.
#2 Work out first thing
Your hunger hormone leptin level is low in the morning, which will help you exercise longer. In a study by University of Montreal, researchers found that mice which had low leptin ran twice as far as those with a normal level. The reason: when leptin drops, you feel hungry which in turn taps a primitive portion of the brain that propels you into action. As result, you’re super motivated to move. Those vibes may linger after you leave the gym, making you feel good and giving you energy to tackle other goals.
#3 Talk to yourself
Before you begin your workout, tell yourself that you’re pumped. If you’re having trouble believing it, think back to a recent session that left you feeling amazing and remind yourself how exercising helps you achieve your goals, or chat with the person next to you in class about how awesome you’re both about to feel. “You can extend those good feelings by also taking time to acknowledge them after you finish your workout,” says Suzanne G. Helfer, Ph.D, a professor of psychology at Adrian College.These simple steps can help you savour the exercise high, making it last.
#4 Get yourself a workout friend
When you’re around others, your pain and fatigue thresholds are higher which means you can push yourself to go harder and faster and for longer, according to a recent research by Emma Cohen, an associate professor at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford in England. Social bonding activates the same endocannabinoid system that exercise does, she says. So, doing group physical exercises or taking classes will help you reap the same benefits.
#5 Do it in nature
Being in nature has been proved to boost mood, benefits that exercise also offers. So combine the two and you get an even bigger boost! “When you’re out in nature, the restorative, stress-reducing, mind-clearing experience of exercise can really be strengthened,” explains Tytti Pasanen, a researcher at the University of Tampere in Finland. Pasanen found that taking it outdoors can make you happier long-term in your day-to-day life.