In the field of science, dopamine has been known to be the brain chemical responsible for feelings of happiness. As a matter of fact, it is considered the most popular neurotransmitter in the brain because of the role that it plays in motivating and making people feel good. Moreover, your body releases dopamine whenever you participate in pleasurable activities like eating comfort food or playing games. When you’re in love, your brain also releases a rush of dopamine.
Engaging in workouts does not just help you build muscle mass; it also releases dopamine in the body. People who engage in regular exercises tend to feel good after dopamine levels in their brain increase. Even simple exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling, and stretching can already trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. And yes, dopamine levels can have a huge effect on your workout routine. Below are five of them:
Dopamine Controls Movement
Movement is a key part of working out. This is because dopamine supports the communication between neurons in the brain that controls movement. The way dopamine controls motor physiology is through regulating the motoneuron and modulation functions in the brain’s motor centers known as basal ganglia. This is the part that is responsible for regulating movement. Hence, maintaining a good balance of dopamine in the brain will enable you to exercise better.
When dopamine levels in the brain are low, your movements could be uncoordinated. Low production of dopamine in the brain results in a chemical imbalance, which manifests in physical symptoms. Chronic brain ailments such as Parkinson’s disease have been associated with low levels of brain chemicals, including dopamine. The opposite is also true—excessive levels of dopamine result in poor self-control and can often lead to unhealthy habits such as binge eating and gambling. In fact, excess levels of dopamine can sometimes lead to addiction.
Dopamine Increases As You Work Out
Dopamine also helps regulate your mood. When its levels in the body are high, you’ll be motivated and energized to work out. Even so, more dopamine is released as you engage in physical activities. In other words, working out stimulates the brain to release this chemical.
While the amount of dopamine in the body at the beginning of workouts may be low, the levels increase as you continue to work out. You can start noticing improvements in your mood within ten minutes of engaging in aerobic activity.
This happens because during exercises or workouts, your body provides low-dose jolts to the reward centers of the brain. This is the system that enables you to feel hopeful and anticipate pleasure. Exercising regularly remodels your brain’s reward system, which in turn boosts dopamine levels in the brain receptors.
Dopamine Reduces Fatigue During Workout
When dopamine levels in the brain drop, you begin to experience stress and fatigue during workouts. This means your performance will not be as good as when the amount of dopamine in the brain is high.
Low dopamine levels in the brain can reduce your ability to feel good and experience pleasure during workouts. This leads to reduced energy levels, chronic fatigue, and loss of satisfaction—which have a negative impact on your ability to work out for an extended period of time. Since it’s one of the neurotransmitters that regulate fatigue in the brain, dopamine can also reduce the amount of fatigue you experience during workouts. It also reduces muscle fatigue by inducing relaxation. It does this by occupying specific receptors within the muscles.
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Dopamine Motivates You To Workout
Motivation is a key ingredient to achieving workout goals—whether that be getting healthier, losing weight, or just maintaining body fitness. In most instances, fitness professionals work hard to keep their clients motivated to encourage them to perform better and achieve desired goals. When the levels of dopamine in the brain are high, you’re more likely to achieve your workout goals because you’ll have the motivation and the strength to exercise more. In other words, dopamine helps you work out more efficiently and productively.
Dopamine Can Help Build Muscle Strength
When you are engaging in workouts or any other form of fitness activities, muscle strength is important to maintain a healthy weight. Dopamine enables fitness enthusiasts to build muscle strength by keeping them focused on their workout goals. This motivation and sense of achievement quickly translate to extended muscle endurance and strength that people who enjoy working out are constantly seeking to develop.
In terms of reducing fat levels in the body, dopamine has a way of fast-tracking the rate at which individuals reduce fat in the body. It enables you to burn calories and boost your body composition in terms of muscle to fat ratio when you are engaging in workouts. This contributes to the significant loss of weight.
Dopamine is an important feel-good hormone that’s present in the brain and largely responsible for keeping you motivated, focused, and energetic during workouts. Dopamine levels are also heightened whenever you feel positive emotions such as being happy and in love. When your dopamine levels are high, you can work out for a longer period of time and feel more motivated. In turn, this enhances muscle endurance, strength, burns more calories, and keeps you in good physical shape.
However, it’s also important to regulate dopamine levels in the body. Having low or very high levels of dopamine is not good. Low levels of dopamine will keep you tired and unmotivated, making it difficult to achieve fitness goals.
Excessive levels of dopamine, on the other hand, will result in hyperactivity and risky behavior. To regulate dopamine levels, regular exercises can help. For those who really need a boost, there are also supplements you can take that can help trigger the release of dopamine in the body.