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Not getting a rush from working out.


Milo

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I've read everywhere that one of the best benefits of exercising is the endorphin rush, or that exercise is rewarding because of the endorphin rush, or that the best way to overcome stress and a crappy week is by exercise so your brain will release endorphins. You get a "runner's high", you feel euphoric, you release your body's version of opiates, etc., etc., etc.

 

I feel so good after a big meal. My stomach is happy, and my heart is happy. I get that, although it's not good for my waistline.

 

But I don't think I'm getting endorphins from exercising! It doesn't help me overcome stress, or a bad mood, or a rough week. It makes me feel exhausted and worn down. I don't feel energized by it, I feel pooped. I don't feel happy, I feel like collapsing on the couch or on my bed. I feel nothing like how the websites describe it, inducing an opiate-like high after exercising.

 

Do others have the same experience? Are the articles and posts over-hyped? Or is there something different or wrong with my physiology that keeps me from feeling that high?

 

Should I get anything checked out by a doctor?

 

How do I stay motivated to achieve my goals?

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Motivation? Do exercises that you have fun with.

You'll never EVER get me on a treadmill, but talk weightlifting and I'm all over that barbell like a dog humping a leg. No better motivation than actually liking what you're doing.

As for that endorphin high, "opiate-like high" is a bit of an exaggeration. It's more of a "fuck-yes-im-awesome" high if you ask me, so go forth and be awesome. Dunno about them runners though.

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Motivation? Do exercises that you have fun with.

You'll never EVER get me on a treadmill, but talk weightlifting and I'm all over that barbell like a dog humping a leg. No better motivation than actually liking what you're doing.

 

 

Same here, when it gets warm I'm going to start throwing and dragging, and running around with heavy things to get my cardiovascular conditioning up.

 

I get a rush when I hit a big milestone, but that's more about reaching goals. I do find that I feel better when I'm lifting regularly. It evens out my mood swings and helps me eat and sleep enough.

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I've never gotten an exercise endorphin rush in my life.

 

I do get the "hell yeah I just did an awesome thing!" rush, though, from mastering new skills/lifting a new PR/whatever.  I've learned to accept that as "good enough."  I second the opinion of "do what makes you happy."  If you're doing a fun activity, the endorphins aren't really that necessary to keep you motivated..... just my two cents.

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I do get a 'heck yeah, I'm invincible' feeling when I'm running, but I never really get a rush lifting weights.

I wouldn't say it's a high, but it is kind of a rush once you push past the first few minutes. 

I figure it's probably a preference thing, if you don't like running, then you're not going to feel it.

 

My suggestions would be try a few different activities, maybe you'll feel more at home with intervals or a cardio dance class. If you like running, try running outdoors. It's a lot more exciting than a treadmill. 

ALSO check your playlist. Find music that pumps you up to exercise. When I do intervals, dubstep is the best if you can find a song that fits with your timing.

 

To stay motivated, you can try tracking your progress or monitoring how you feel. I know I feel awful if I don't run; I can't sleep and I'm emotionally unstable.

If you consistently feel tired after exercising, use it to your advantage. Exercise before going to bed so you get to sleep quickly.

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Honestly, I got hooked on feeling sore (as crazy as that sounds) Feeling that I pushed my body to do something it couldn't do before thrills me. 

 

However for a 'high'? I have to push myself HARD in spin (HIIT hills, ughhhh I hate myself DURING but afterwards I do get a rush). 

 

I've experienced the runners high once and will likely experience it again running once I start training for my half marathon- I hit it at mile 7 of the Army 10, and you get that not by pushing hard but slowing your pace and falling into it. I thought this article summed it up nicely- 

 

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/how-to-achieve-a-runners-high

 

You have to find that 'sweet spot' where you're mildly uncomfortable but not in pain- then the endorphin's kick in and it's the best thing ever- I believe you definitely need to condition to reach that though. 

 

 

Also, how long have you been working out and what are you doing? That may have something to do with it. 

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Motivation? Do exercises that you have fun with.

^THIS

 

I never get runner's highs.  I freaking hate running.  Not my thing.

 

But I love training in the dojo.  I get the greatest mood upswing when I practice.  And when I lift and it's a good session, I feel the same (though I notice not being rushed is a huge factor in this one of me.)

 

When I started, I was just exhausted.  And I think my exhaustion covered the mood issues.  So if you're just starting and/or advancing too rapidly for your body to learn, you might be missing out on the "feeling good" vibes because you actually are wearing yourself out. (But I could be wrong.)

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I've had a runners high precisely once. I'd been working on running for >3 months, I think and suddenly I felt awesome, laughed out loud and cranked up the speed. never again since and now I don't run any more.

 

Now, though, I do things that I enjoy: aerial silks and heavy weights. I like what I'm doing.

 

More importantly, though, exercise is a habit. It's not just something I do that I enjoy. Some days I really don't enjoy it. I go through slumps where the last thing I want to do is touch a barbell. You know what? I do it anyway. Motivation fails. Habits are better.

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I feel so good after a big meal. My stomach is happy, and my heart is happy. I get that, although it's not good for my waistline.

 

 

I remember this feeling - nicely over-sated, calm, warm, still, and a bit sleepy. It's a nice feeling. 'Exercise happy' doesn't feel like 'full of food happy', and I wouldn't recommend setting out to replace the latter with the former, although you may find that it will in time.

 

As others have said, 'exercise happy' isn't generally a high or a rush, at least not as I experience it. I'd categorise it a bit like this:

 

1) The moment happy. I'm running through a beautiful park on a lovely day, at a decent pace, and it's comfortable. I feel like I'm flying, and all is right with the world. I'm grinning like an idiot.

2) The zone happy. I'm distance running, and I've got to the lovely sweet spot where my pace is good, my energy levels consistent, and I can keep this going for as long as I need to. I'm breathing heavily, but I'm fine.

3) The achievement happy. Get the text message with my time from my last 5k parkrun, and it's four seconds off my previous personal best. I have the "success kid" clenched fist of triumph.

4) The smugness. Feeling tired, but damn virtuous with it. I'm getting my breath back, and I'm very glad I'm done.

 

The more I had of these, the more I found 'food happy' still good, but I started to dislike the sluggish feeling that went with it, and wish I'd eaten a bit less. But I don't think you can straightforwardly swap one for the over - it's got to come over a long time.

 

As to how to get more of the 'exercise happy', as Raf and Ampersand and Phoenix have said, you've got to find something you enjoy. I think there's something for everyone. For me, it's running. Could be swimming, or hiking, or weightlifting, or salsa, or yoga, or zumba, or golf, or soccer, or skating, or whatever. It's got to be something you enjoy.

 

I found music helps a lot in terms of mood while exercising, and I've found music choice works in odd ways. It's not always necessarily the stuff I'd normally listen to... generally more dancy, more poppy, more mindless, faster stuff. All my best 'highs' or 'moments' (apart from races) in running have been with particular music in the background.

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I don't get a high from cardio, ever, it just makes me sweaty and tired.

I get a hit of endorphins from lifting HEAVY, but not from just lifting. I wouldn't say it makes me "high" though. Its just a good feeling and gives you a spring in your step.

However that spring only lasts until the tiredness kicks in. And often the tiredness is an all-enveloping-you-can't-ignore-this-shit tiredness which often coincides with me needing to stay awake so i don't miss my train stop.

 

 

I didn't get any of the good stuff, or the uber tiredness until weights got really heavy (talking like 3-4months of stronglifts)

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1) The moment happy. I'm running through a beautiful park on a lovely day, at a decent pace, and it's comfortable. I feel like I'm flying, and all is right with the world. I'm grinning like an idiot.

2) The zone happy. I'm distance running, and I've got to the lovely sweet spot where my pace is good, my energy levels consistent, and I can keep this going for as long as I need to. I'm breathing heavily, but I'm fine.

3) The achievement happy. Get the text message with my time from my last 5k parkrun, and it's four seconds off my previous personal best. I have the "success kid" clenched fist of triumph.

4) The smugness. Feeling tired, but damn virtuous with it. I'm getting my breath back, and I'm very glad I'm done.

For me there is also 0) Anticipation. Because I do exercises which I enjoy I actually look forward to it. It can be quite distracting :D

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Thanks for all the great responses!

 

So some of you get it, but only after months of working towards it, and maybe only once or twice. And some of you just feel proud of where you are and how far you've come. But nobody gets it like a drug.

 

But the exercises do get easier? I'm starting to feel like someone who just doesn't like exercise!

Orc Warrior | LVL 4

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But the exercises do get easier? I'm starting to feel like someone who just doesn't like exercise!

That's a very common feeling but mostly untrue in my experience. Maybe you don't like some kinds of exercise but I am a strong believer that for everyone there is some form of exercise they would enjoy. You don't have to run marathons or squat twice your bodyweight to lose weight / gain muscle. Find something you enjoy and do that :)

 

"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and, whatever you hit, call it the target."

 

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In all seriousness to my image above (which is still deadly serious), they do become more enjoyable, just not easier. That is my experience. I get tetchy when i don't workout now and i actively enjoy going to the gym. When i started stairs would trigger my asthma. The workouts are much harder now though.

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I'm honestly not sure if I've ever experienced an endorphin rush from exercise. I guess I probably have, but I couldn't tell you when, or what it was like.

 

What it seems like to me is that lifting is a little bit meditative. I'm usually in my head a lot, but putting physical effort into something requires that I be in the moment, focusing on a physical movement, instead of some distant abstract worry. It grounds me. Add that to the feeling of accomplishment from having done something difficult, and I walk out of the gym in a pretty good mood.

 

Are endorphins a component of that feeling? Maybe so. Any emotional state is going to result from brain chemistry in some way. But my point is that it doesn't feel, to me, like unexpected magical happy juice, it just seems like a natural outcome of the activity.

You can't push your limits without touching them.

 

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In all seriousness to my image above (which is still deadly serious), they do become more enjoyable, just not easier. That is my experience. I get tetchy when i don't workout now and i actively enjoy going to the gym. When i started stairs would trigger my asthma. The workouts are much harder now though.

 

Feels. I get all fidgety on rest days that I feel great. I actually switched to a low volume/high frequency/high intensity program just so I can get a lifting fix almost everyday.

 

With regards to difficulty, weights never feel lighter; you just get used to how heavy they are.

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No body, no mind.

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People say that it doesn't get easier, but it sucks less.

If you're coming from absolutely sedentary, as I did, I've to tell you it does get a bit easier. But also you get used to being unconfortable. So, both.

As for the high, I used to sonetimes get it in the beginning fron biking till I dropped. I don't exactly get highs now, from lifting or swimmimg or crossfitting, but my mind is A LOT clearer. As a result, I'm much lesd miserable. Exercising id totally my prozac. But not my heroin :(

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People say that it doesn't get easier, but it sucks less.

If you're coming from absolutely sedentary, as I did, I've to tell you it does get a bit easier. But also you get used to being unconfortable. So, both.

I've reached the point where I'm pretty much always hurting/sore, but I feel better than I ever have before (well, not this week. Being sick sucks.)

 

 

As for the high, I used to sonetimes get it in the beginning fron biking till I dropped. I don't exactly get highs now, from lifting or swimmimg or crossfitting, but my mind is A LOT clearer. As a result, I'm much lesd miserable. Exercising id totally my prozac. But not my heroin  :(

 

 

For me exercising kind of evens me out. It is a productive outlet for my ridiculous energy, but it also keeps me from getting too low, which had been happening more and more before I got serious about lifting.

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I get a major endorphin rush from indoor cycling with HIIT training.  I also used to get it after an hour on the elliptical even without HIIT.  To get it, you will need to work out hard enough to keep your heart rate elevated at least into the Burn training zone.  I have never gotten it from simply walking at a moderate or even fast pace because my heart rate is not fast enough.  So, that may be why some don’t experience it.  I weight train too, and don’t get an endorphin rush but I do enjoy the soreness afterward as long as I don’t overdo it.  By the way, for those of you who have experienced it, wouldn’t it be great if they could bottle it the way alcohol is bottled?  Alcohol makes me feel terrible but I could go for bottled endorphins or endocannabinoids or whatever causes exercise euphoria.

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I don't get a 'high'.

But doing a circuit workout clears my head and makes me not think about anything apart from that, because I need to do exercise by exercise and do it fast. I am someone who lives in my head and who can't stop thinking. I can feel my body working and doing things I never thought I'd manage a few months ago, I feel strong and like I climbed a mountain. Lifting something really heavy makes me feel accomplished and like I can't wait till I can lift something even heavier. With running, it's harder to feel nice, but give me a place where no one stares at me and some earbuds and I can get into the music and feel like I'm flying. I want to feel sore the next day, because I want to feel like I worked my ass off. Even on rest days I smile when I think that my body can do a lot more than it did a few months back.

I have days where I don't want to exercise, and where exercise doesn't make me feel like this. But the days that it does, I remember. I don't think a 'high' is the right word to describe it. It only happens when I work so hard I am drenched in sweat and panting like a dog, and it is not like a drug, it more feels like a large amount of motivation and pride.

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I dunno. Maybe it's just that I'm inherently lazy, but there are literally no exercise-type activities that I have tried that I actually enjoy. Everything is something I have to force myself to do. And it seems the more consistent I am about it, the harder it becomes to force myself to do it AGAIN, because it just keeps getting more and more unpleasant. Admittedly, after 4ish weeks of being consistent, I don't feel SICK after exercising, but it's still...ugh. I dread starting, look forward to being done (and for excuses to quit early), and am drained and generally feel worse for having done it that day. And since it takes apparently months to actually show anything for it, I've never managed to push myself consistently enough long enough to see anything other than, "Well, at least I'm not nauseous after exercise today," as an actual benefit.

 

It makes it VERY easy to fall out of practice - even a cold will do it, and I tend to get more colds when I'm consistently exercising - and ever-harder to push myself back into it.

 

I loathe sports, I don't like running or anything of the sort, "gym exercises" are a chore at best. I'm aware that this is, at this point, "an attitude problem," but it's one that forcing my way through hasn't worked on.

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21 hours ago, Segev said:

I dunno. Maybe it's just that I'm inherently lazy, but there are literally no exercise-type activities that I have tried that I actually enjoy. Everything is something I have to force myself to do. And it seems the more consistent I am about it, the harder it becomes to force myself to do it AGAIN, because it just keeps getting more and more unpleasant. Admittedly, after 4ish weeks of being consistent, I don't feel SICK after exercising, but it's still...ugh. I dread starting, look forward to being done (and for excuses to quit early), and am drained and generally feel worse for having done it that day. And since it takes apparently months to actually show anything for it, I've never managed to push myself consistently enough long enough to see anything other than, "Well, at least I'm not nauseous after exercise today," as an actual benefit.

 

It makes it VERY easy to fall out of practice - even a cold will do it, and I tend to get more colds when I'm consistently exercising - and ever-harder to push myself back into it.

 

I loathe sports, I don't like running or anything of the sort, "gym exercises" are a chore at best. I'm aware that this is, at this point, "an attitude problem," but it's one that forcing my way through hasn't worked on.

 

The best thing I can say is to try and get a work out buddy/friend (I have my wife and she has me to help motivate the other) and start small.  My wife and I started with 30 minute cardio three days a week, we then added machine weights, we then replaced the machine weights with dumbbells, we then replaced dumbbells with barbells, we then added swimming, and finally wall climbing.  We both don't really like the cardio or weights but we do like how it makes us feel and we found that swimming and wall climbing are things we find fun.  Even though my wife isn't a fan of running she has even started signing up for 5Ks (we did one on January 1st when it was -13 degrees) so even if you don't like doing exercise now if you get a buddy and stay with it you could find things change.    

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On 1/28/2018 at 4:21 PM, Segev said:

I loathe sports, I don't like running or anything of the sort, "gym exercises" are a chore at best.

 

It can be a slog finding what you enjoy doing.  Just remember to not limit yourself to what it "common" exercise things.  Walking counts.  Frisbee counts.  Rockclimbing, martial arts, and surfing count.  There are definitely a range of activities out there that people don't normally think of as being exercise, but promote movement and wellness anyway.  And take everyone's suggestions with a grain of salt.  I know a bunch of runners who tell me running is the greatest thing in the world - but get me running more than a quarter mile and I'm miserable and hate everyone.  I can do it, yes.  But unless there's some super big motivation behind continuing it, I'm going to stop running ASAP.

 

Keep trying different things, and odds are something will stick.

RisenPhoenix, the Entish Aikidoka

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"The essence of koryu [...is] you offer your loyalty to something that you choose to regard as greater than yourself so that you will, someday, be able to offer service to something that truly is transcendent." ~ Ellis Amdur, Old School

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Heh. If 'walking' counted, I'd be in much better shape than I am. I walk a fair distance every day just crossing the facility where I work.

 

Sadly, no form of exercise leaves me liking how I feel after it's done. There is, admittedly, a sense of "well, I got that over with and don't have to beat myself up for having failed to do it again for another 23 hours," but that's hardly motivational.

 

I wish I knew why other people got "runner's highs" and "endorphins" out of it. Am I really just that weird in that I'm the only person who finds nearly all activities that qualify as "physical" a chore, at best?

 

I used to like swimming, but unfortunately the nearest pool is a thirty minute drive away, which is not conducive to actually doing anything on a regular basis. I don't have an extra hour to devote to driving three weekdays per week on top of whatever time I'd have to put in to actually get anything out of it. Especially when I have no idea if I could really motivate myself to use it.

 

It'd just be nice if exercising left me feeling at all good afterwards, as opposed to sick, sore, and dreading the next time I have to do it lest I fall out of the habit again. >_<

 

Incidentally, just started doing it again. First time I've managed it twice in the same week this year. I'll just keep trying to force myself through it and hope I don't find an excuse to stop again. Ugh.

 

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