Group Fitness and Endorphins: Three Perspectives
By Tess DeBlander, Sara Hare, and Sharon Stephens, Group Fitness instructors at the Village Health Clubs and Spas
Finding Endorphin Joy in Group Exercise
By Tess DeBlander
When was the last time you truly felt happy? Had a great belly laugh or felt overall spontaneous joy? This release of “feel good” chemicals occur as a response from a touchdown of a favorite football team, seeing a baby’s smile, driving a new car, and from participation in Group Exercise Classes. How? Endorphins.
What are Endorphins?
Endorphins are the chemicals in your brain that help you cope with pain, stress, anxiety and improve your sense of well-being. They can also be described as neurotransmitters or hormones that are released in response to a specific event. A rush of endorphins occur if you experience winning the lottery, or if you sprain an ankle in exercise. These endorphins have you jumping for joy or help you limp to safety, as they reduce pain and discomfort. They explain why a group of people may be able to lift a heavy vehicle off an injured person, when this may not occur under a normal circumstance.
Benefits of Endorphins
Furthermore, there are more than 20 types of endorphins in the body. The release of endorphins varies among individuals and often involves the release of other feel-good chemicals like dopamine. Endorphins help you cope with pain and stress and dopamine is a mood, motivation booster that involves the reward circuit in your brain. Think of endorphins as the “in-the-moment” feelings and dopamine as the afterglow.
Below is a list of some of the many benefits of experiencing the joys of endorphins.
- Reduced Depression
- Improved Self- Esteem
- Reduced Anxiety
- Reduced Pain
- Boosted Immunity
- Regulated Appetite
You’re probably thinking, “I’ll take all of the above, please!” One of the easiest ways to release endorphins is by exercising! The more you exercise, the more endorphins your body produces. The added benefit of group exercise is that you are sharing in the experience, having a few laughs, getting support from the instructor, and you don’t have to think of what work out to attempt that day.
Group Fitness and Endorphins
A 45-60 minute workout at moderate intensity is a great first option if you’re feeling in a funk.
You can control the flow of endorphins in a group exercise class and move towards a better mood day. Do what makes you smile and your body will love it (health benefit bonus). Variety is the spice of life, so mix it up until it feels right and fits your schedule.
Group Exercise Class choices at The Village include: Aqua-Aerobics, Barre, Cycle, Cardio Muscle, Foam Rolling, Kinesis, Pilates, Total Body Tabata, TRX, Yoga, Hot Yoga, and more! Even a massage, sitting in a sauna, manicure, or eating a great dish in the Café and laughing with friends can boost your endorphins. Without your endorphins, the world would seem very bland, boring, and joyless. Who want’s that? Toss out the scale and be in it for the endorphins!
Bottom line: Exercise creates endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! – Elle Woods
Tess DeBlander, MS Exercise Science and Adjunct Online Faculty at the University of Phoenix (Human Nutrition). National Certifications in: Group Exercise (ACE) and Personal Training (ACE), Sports Nutrition, Yoga (200hrs), Stages Cycling, TRX, Barre, Foam Rolling, Kettlebell Training, Stretching, Healthy Back Exercises, and more.
Endorphins – Why is Everyone so Revved Up?
By Sharon Stevens
As an instructor, I always find it amusing observing the difference in people’s body language, energy level and overall well-being upon entering a fitness class and how significantly it changes by the end of the class. Prior to class beginning, people barely crawl in with sluggish energy and dreary expressions on their faces. Midway through the session, people start smiling and you can physically witness an increase in liveliness. Finally, when the 60-minute workout is completed, everyone becomes exuberant fireballs bursting with energy and happiness.
It’s like comparing an old, broken-down jalopy to a brand new, fully loaded V8 Corvette. What causes this sudden and intense shift in vitality?
Hybrid or Hocus Pocus
This is no joke. It’s the wonderous human body creating endorphins! Endorphins are neurotransmitters that interact with receptors in the brain that create a feeling of euphoria in the body. They are basically a magical “hormone” that your body releases providing you with positive feelings. Endorphins elevate your mindset and can be the powering force that moves you forward past challenge or pain. They put a pep in your step and a smile on your face!
Turbo-charged Benefits of Endorphins
Endorphins benefit the human body in many ways. It’s nature’s way of helping one move forward in life. Have you ever physically injured yourself while alone, but then suddenly dismissed the pain and found the energy to get up and get help? Have you ever found it difficult to get out of bed, but after a quick morning walk with the dog, felt immensely better?Have you ever felt extremely stressed out about an upcoming meeting, then did some deep breathing or mediation and somehow worked past those negative emotions? Those were endorphins at work for you.
Endorphins are the superpower that fuels us. They can be quite life changing! Some of their short-term benefits include:
– Natural Positive Feelings
– Reduced Perception of Pain
– Increased Energy
– Reduced Anxiety
Some of their long-term benefits may include:
-Increased Self-Esteem and Mental Health
-Personal Motivation and Gains
-Connections with Friends and Society
Get Your Fill of Endorphins
Endorphins are released in many ways. They are easily attainable. Some examples of ways you can boost endorphin activity include:
- Eating Certain Foods like dark chocolate or spicy food
- Getting Acupuncture
I personally find exercise to be one of the best and most enjoyable ways to stimulate endorphin production. It is cost effective. It’s doesn’t take long to reap the benefits. And it comes with a host of other health benefits such as improving heart and brain health and creating a better functioning and more fit body. And let’s not forget; it’s also super FUN!
Custom Detailed to Your Needs
Your body does not build an intolerance to endorphins like it does with other stimulants, like caffeine. However, it is one thing you can get accustomed to seeking more of on a regular basis. When you know what it feels like to feel good naturally, it’s only natural for you to want it on a regular basis. Who doesn’t want to feel more content, centered and happy?
Find your favorite means of manufacturing these amazing neurotransmitters, customize them to fit your lifestyle and fuel your body with all their awesome powers.
Gear up for some uplifting mood enhancing and unstoppable energy friends! Let your body make for you – what’s best for you!
Sharon Stephens is a Group Fitness Instructor for The Village Health Club and Spas located in Scottsdale, Arizona. She started teaching fitness in leg warmers in 1996, and still owns a few pairs. Sharon has reached a diverse group of people having taught in health clubs in Chicago, cities in mid-state Michigan, Las Vegas, Denver and several areas in Arizona teaching formats like Bootcamp, Step Aerobics, Dance, Kick Boxing, Aqua Aerobics, Barre, HIIT, Heated Sculpt, Cycle etc. She loves to create fun classes centered around upbeat musicality, choreography and enjoys being creative with equipment. It totally makes her day to help others get their fill of endorphins! Sharon adores her family, Hawaii, her dogs, connecting with people and her “While Alive Live” mentality.
Have you ever regretted a workout? No! Because of Endorphins!
By Sara Hare
That’s because as most of us already know, physical activity promotes the production of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, aka endorphins. Combine that, “natural reward system” feeling with social interaction aka group fitness and BOOM! You’ve got double the bang for your buck! Post-Covid it’s especially important for our physical/mental health and wellness to get back into the groove of making plans with friends/family or your favorite furry friend to get moving together again. For many, the gym is a daunting place… We don’t know where to start, how to use the equipment or if our form is proper. This can be discouraging and place a halt on our exercise program. However, our progress takes place outside of our comfort zones. One of the biggest benefits to group exercise is variety. Really dive into your interests and passions and find what works for you!!
Here are the Top 10 Reason’s why Group Fitness Classes are proven to make you healthier and happier:
1.) Boosts relieve of stress & body pain.
2.) Generating new relationships.
3.) Reduce insomnia, anxiety, depression & PMS symptoms.
4.) Human interaction leads to smiling, laughing and learning new things.
5.) Booking a time to meet for an activity will hold you accountable to show up.
6.) Could provide friendly competition to work harder & get stronger.
7.) Enhances your motivation you to work harder.
8.) Incentive to try something new with a partner. If you don’t enjoy one class, explore another.
9.) Improves mood, self-confidence and sleep patterns.
10.) Primes you to connect with others & make a new friend.
Sarah has been a group fitness instructor for over 22 years with certifications in Yoga, TRX, & Water Aerobics. You can find her teaching Aqua Fitness at Village Gainey Ranch Wednesday’s at 8:30am. She is also a full-time real estate advisor at Platinum Living Realty and spends her spare time swimming, paddle boarding the Salt River, hiking, cooking and relaxing with her husband and 2 black Labs.