At first glance, engaging in exercise appears to be a tough, grueling, and even painful activity. Do it long and often enough and you will definitely reap some physical rewards. And while there are most certainly bodybuilders and gym fans who seem to be addicted to working out, most people look at exercise as a sort of necessary evil. There is little pleasure to be gained from running six miles straight on the treadmill – or is there? When you get into the zone and start to feel really good about exercise, meeting goals, and seeing results, the power of dopamine is revealed.

What Is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a substance that is released by the brain to signal pleasure. Think about what it feels like to win a race, get promoted at work, or take a sip of hot cocoa after shoveling snow. At its core, dopamine controls how and where pleasure is derived from. A person who is morbidly obese may get a rush of dopamine upon taking a bite of a frosted donut. On the other hand, an accomplished athlete may get a rush of dopamine upon scoring a goal. How dopamine is released and created is a bit of a different story.

Why You Want to Release More Dopamine

So, all humans are born with a certain amount of dopamine. Small children will release dopamine as they develop and are praised and rewarded for hitting milestones. An active child might be met with cheers after going across a set of monkey bars without assistance. Likewise, a budding scholar will release stores of dopamine when parents lavish him or her with praise for getting good grades. In essence, your body learns when and why to release dopamine from an early age. You want to release more of it so that you are properly motivated for doing good things. 

Dopamine and the Goal-Reward System

When your body is balanced and well rested your neurotransmitters will release just the right amounts of dopamine in response to stimuli. Doing something small like running down the street and making the bus just before the doors close will give you a quick boost, because you ultimately accomplished a goal. Dopamine is the motivator behind thrill seeking activities like bungee jumping and skydiving. Remarkably, dopamine is one of the main motivators behind regular exercise. Actually working out may not feel enjoyable. However, the minute you actually finish a workout you get a sense of accomplishment. Your body then releases a bit of dopamine and you feel great for setting and meeting a goal.

Increasing Dopamine Levels Naturally

To increase the amount of dopamine your body produces, you have to really take a whole life approach. Your body must be in sync with your mind, meaning that no part of your well being can be neglected. Eat only the best and most wholesome foods. Get a full night’s sleep in a comfortable bed. There are supplements that are also known to naturally increase dopamine levels. Find out how to increase dopamine levels the natural way by following the link. Regularly exercising is also a highly effective means of increasing your dopamine levels naturally. As you take better care of your body, the better you will naturally feel over time.

Why Dopamine is a Powerful Motivator

Doing things that are good for you but don’t necessary feel good initially isn’t exactly human nature. You will get the urge to eat a bacon cheeseburger before you get a craving for carrot sticks. Gorging on fast food naturally feels good, as does sitting on the couch and channel surfing all weekend. But you also know that these unhealthy behaviors are not good. Logic tells people what the right thing to do is, but actually being able to fight those kinds of cravings is pretty tough. This is where motivational rewards like dopamine come in. If you can just get through that first workout without cutting it short or otherwise cheating, you will actually feel the results before you can see them visually.

If you have ever worked out then you know how dopamine can be a motivator. Since you can get a boost of dopamine from doing unhealthy things like using illegal drugs just as much as lifting weights, it is important to teach your body what it needs. Look forward to going on a bike ride because it will make you healthier rather than pigging out and eating an entire pizza. Soon, you will be craving the types of activities that give you the biggest boosts of dopamine.