At Rockbottum CC, we have been hopelessly addicted to opiates of the endorphin variety for decades. * See the Rockbottum Blog post "Exercise, Brain Function and Depression" column and attached films dated August of 2019 for actual science talk.
Endorphins, generated by the brain, are the safest, most effective mood enhancement drugs available, although there are certain corporations that would prefer you did not know that. In the past, these companies were successful at suppressing the use of endorphins by paying for articles with titles like "The So-Called Runner's High" or "The Agony of Exercise Addiction".
If you would like to obtain a prescription for endorphins, keep reading and I'll tell you how to get one.
We're often so stoned on brain opiates . . .
One of the quickest, easiest ways to obtain a happy, positive outlook is through consistent exercise, the kind that increases heart rate and builds muscular endurance and strength. Load bearing exercise, like running and lifting, armors you up by improving bone density. Hollow, brittle bones, associated with a sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits, will send you to the ER for the slightest tumble.
Everyone at Rockbottum is an unrepentant endorphin user, from Buddy and Momma to Bodell, Jimmy Cole and . . . me. We're often so stoned on brain opiates that we can't help but project a calm, happy, goofy persona in our films.
The most inexpensive endorphin generator is plain old walking. A four mile walk takes an hour and requires no gear, unless one needs a music soundtrack or a podcast injection. The downside to walking is how quickly the human body adapts to the stress and stops producing large amounts of endorphins. To keep manufacturing brain chemicals, walking has to be adjusted by increasing the speed or distance, or simply adding more weight. (This is where walking becomes hiking.) The busy GCS can sneak in a fast pre-dawn walk on the course before the crew arrives and the subsequent endorphin glow can last through lunch. Walking while playing golf is typically too slow to produce endorphins and can expose one to golfers, triggering brain stress chemicals.
certain types of lifting can increase muscular endurance, making you feel pretty.
Losing weight always comes up when discussing exercise. Weight loss can happen, but our research indicates training is probably only responsible for about 20% of the weight loss. What you are shoving down your neck plays a much bigger role in losing weight. While it is possible to increase fat-burning with techniques like intense interval workouts, there is the secondary effect of increased demand for ice cream.
The gym. We have haunted gyms since the late 60s. As a self-taught strength and fitness coach for HS football and bike racing, I have experimented with almost every training method, fad and cult that has surfaced since '68. Lifting is critical to maintaining bone density and certain types of lifting can increase muscular endurance, making you feel pretty.
Bodyweight training, like push-ups, pull-ups and deep squats are very effective, can be blended with a walk, and carry a minimal risk of injury, as compared to some gym routines.
Running produces a heavy dose of endorphins, but overuse injuries are common, especially when the training is conducted on hard surfaces. Concrete is the worst. If you run your course, avoid the paths and run fairways. I once had a job that required me to run asphalt every morning and it still hurts to this day. There are cultists who preach that cardio is bad and only intense intervals coupled with explosive Olympic-type lifting is acceptable training. Maybe so, but if you are being chased across the tundra by a family of polar bears--or through your neighborhood by criminals-- cardio is kind of essential.
Our favorite endorphin provider has always been the bike. (Not the current E-bike, those things are blasphemy.) While the bike does not contribute to improved bone density, because your bodyweight is supported, it does increase your speed and range, curtailing the boredom factor. Nowadays I prefer the mountain bike on trails and jeep roads. I retired from road bike racing and will not ride the road again, until gasoline goes past $8 or folks stop texting while driving. The mountain bike is safer than the road bike, unless you are lured into jumping over things by Gen Z'ers fixated on Tikity-Toking the failure of their former friends.
I have been hit twice by a car while road riding, but I have never looked over my shoulder on a mountain bike trail to see a Dodge Ram bearing down on me. The mountain bike is Forest Therapy combined with adrenaline, especially if you ride on trails shared with grizzlies, mountain lions, and Gen Z'ers documenting their downhill ride with two Go Pros and those white things sticking out of their ears.
Currently there is a shortage of quality bikes, with people selling used mountain bikes for more than they paid new. If you can find a new mountain bike, the sticker shock will be rather severe, but look at it this way: A few thousand dollars for a great bike that provides cardiovascular health, makes you feel younger and helps avoid that doctor visit where you come home with a grocery sack of pharma-chemicals, is a great deal.
The other meds for mood enhancement, like beer and sinister test tube potions whipped up by those folks who want us to sit watching the sun in separate bathtubs, come at a hefty price. Yes, beer is relaxing, but try putting rubbing alcohol on your skin, same spot every day, and see what happens. That's what's happening to your insides, especially your gray matter. Need proof? Take a look at famous drinkers like Hil C. or the Speaker of The House or middle aged Hollywood stars and then decide.
If you choose to experiment with endorphins, take somebody with you. It's more fun that way and you are less likely to quit. This is where I'm supposed to say, "Before embarking on an exercise program, check with your doctor", but I'm not gonna say that because I have lost faith in the medical science boys, since a lot of them switched over to the hypocritic oath.
Oh, I almost forgot. Two more things: When you get home from obtaining endorphins, don't ruin it by jumping straight on the nearest screen. The one thing capable of neutralizing your endorphin glow is all that slop flowing out of your screens and covering the floor. Finally, I saw a chart listing the conditions capable of exacerbating that mystery virus and first on the list was obesity. Interestingly, in second place--ahead of things like diabetes and heart disease--was anxiety.
Modern anxiety comes from overexposure to screens and a lack of endorphins.
For more information, watch for our upcoming film on enhanced endorphin production using mountain bikes, the forest and air.