Taking Advantage of Your Natural Endorphins

Joint pain from arthritis can be frustrating. When you are in the throes of a flare-up, you want the pain to end and vow you will do anything to make that happen. What you may not realize is that exercising regularly is one way to reduce the pain. Learn more about taking advantage of your natural endorphins and see what a difference it can make.
Your Naturopathic Doctor will stress how important it is to exercise regularly. When you have arthritis, however, not all types of exercise are recommended. Ask your naturopathic doctor which exercises are best for you to do or see a physical therapist to learn how to exercise safely with arthritis.
Research shows that normal, light exercise can be effective to achieve joint pain relief. What type of exercises should you do? Try one or more of these to relieve joint pain and stiffness:
* Hydrotherapy is exercise you do in lukewarm water. The movements, with the resistance of the water, strengthen muscles and tendons surrounding the joint. It also helps relax the joints. Since you do the exercises in the water, you do not have the stress and pressure on the joints that you would experience with other exercises.
* Yoga is another exercise you can do that will help reduce arthritis pain and relax the mind. Yoga makes the muscles more flexible and able to protect the joints. Thousands use Yoga on a regular basis to reduce joint pain and stiffness.
Obviously, you can do other exercises as well. However, it is important to listen to the cues your body sends you. If you start having pain in the joints while exercising, stop immediately.
You may have heard of the “runner’s high”, the state of euphoria a runner gets while running. What they are experiencing is a rise in the endorphin level. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. The purpose of the neurotransmitter is to transmit electrical signals within the body’s nervous system.  These neurotransmitters make you feel good and reduces pain in the body.
What most people do not know is that endorphins interact with receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain. Research shows the endorphins act much the same way a drug like codeine or morphine would act on the body. Thankfully, endorphins are natural and, while you may be tempted to exercise more to get that sense of euphoria, endorphins are non-habit forming.
Doctors cannot tell you how many endorphins your body will produce since each person is different. You will have to experiment with how intense and how long you exercise to determine when endorphins kick in. You may also see an increase of endorphins for non-exercising activities. Acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation and sex will all increase endorphin levels to a degree.
Another benefit of exercise, besides the obvious reduction in pain and the benefits to your overall health, is how exercise can affect you psychologically. The same endorphins that help with pain relief will also reduce the effects of depression. As you can see, it is possible to take advantage of your natural endorphins and reduce the pain you feel.
By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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