Why Exercise for Chronic Pain?

Here is a hard science reason for utilizing exercise to address pain.

Beta-Endorphin.  Beta-Endorphin is produced within the body and plays a powerful role in controlling pain.  In fact it’s power to control pain is several times that of morphine.  Of the endogenous opioids, Beta-Endorphin also produces the greatest sensation of euphoria.

So how can I get prescribed Beta-Endorphin?  Through sustained exercise.

The body produces Beta-Endorphins in large amounts through SUSTAINED EXERCISE which in turn binds to receptors to produce euphoria and modulate pain.

The initial research connecting exercise to production of ‘endorphins’ involved runners participating in running for two hours.  Through imaging, there was observed a positive correlation between sensation of euphoria and distribution of ‘endorphins’ in the brain.

So how long do I need to exercise to receive the benefit?

The relationship between endorphin release and exercise seems to be related to the intensity of the exercise.  A recent study entitled ‘Opioid Release after High-Intensity Interval Training in Healthy Human Subjects’ observed a higher production of endorphin release with Anaerobic interval training.  Positive mood was noted after 60 minutes of moderate aerobic treadmill training suggesting endorphin production but not at the observed concentration that HIIT produced.  It was hypothesized that the increase in endorphin production was in proportion to the discomfort of the exercise.  ‘Feel the burn’.

Therefore as a guideline, endorphin facilitation workouts are more efficient when producing uncomfortable but safe muscular fatigue.  This fatigue occurs most efficiently during a workout facilitating an anaerobic environment.

What does this mean?  It means if you can sustain the exercise such that you do not require a rest secondary to muscular fatigue, or ‘burn’, then you  may not be producing the stimulus required to most efficiently produce endorphins through exercise.   So this begs the question.

Endorphin facilitation in the body is a natural process stimulated by many things besides exercise.  Concerning movement and exercise this post attempts to empower you though new ideas and research.  So, concerning exercises and endorphins, are you working out the ‘right way’ to achieve the goals you are after?