“…the signature expression of joy: a full-body jumping gesture, arms stretched overhead, chest open, and gaze lifted, as if you had just thrown confetti into the air.”
“The Joy of Movement” by Kelly McGoniga was a good read, helping me better understand why I (Peggy) love to hike, dance and row. Here are some of my main insights:
Exercise increases the number of receptors for endocanniboids*. (Yes, you guessed it, endocanniboids are your very own internal “cannabis factory”.)
A natural high, runners high is the most well talked about but you don’t have to be a runner to get a release of endocanniboids. All you need to do is persist at movement that is moderately difficult to release endocanniboids and create a “persistence high” which also:
- Makes you more social
- Decreases anxiety and stress
- Increases pain tolerance.
Persisting at movement that is moderately difficult worked so well that research participants who suffered from panic attacks were not able to induce a panic attack in situations that would usually do so.
Music & Movement
Your brain responds to music you like by increasing dopamine, adrenaline and endorphins. These brain transmitters serve to give you more energy and decrease pain. Throughout history music, songs or chants have been used to make work less taxing. Think of medieval rowers who chanted in unison as do modern kayak racers. When singing/chanting/listening to music the release of endorphins makes movement easier as well as helps create a bond with fellow participants. Combine “music” with movement and you get a double power “high”.
McGonigal calls songs used by some athletes to energize them “power” songs. Power songs usually have a tempo of 120-140 beats per minute, and also have strong associations to positive emotions, often from the lyrics or culture or personal associations (think of the theme from Rocky).
Music lyrics aren’t just for athletes as they can help all of us work harder, even reduce pain and fatigue. Popular workout songs actually have lyrics that are about perseverance and determination (like Eminems “”Till I Collapse”).
Kelly McGonigal “The Joy of Movement”
*The endogenous cannabinoid system—named for the plant that led to its discovery—is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. With its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs, the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system, we begin to see a mechanism that could connect brain activity and states of physical health and disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997295/