Moving The Dopamine! Running Can Positively Change Your Brain.
Did you know that pleasure and pain are co-located?
Well according to Dr. Anna Lembke (2021) “in addition to the discovery of dopamine, neuroscientists have determined that please and pain are processed in overlapping brain regions”. Our brains work to keep a balance of dopamine, an equilibrium. So, when we experience something pleasurable, the dopamine that is released in our reward pathway tips the balance of pleasure. The more the balance tips and the faster it tips the more pleasure we feel. But remember that equilibrium, our brains work to get back to a balance. So, every time our pleasure balance tips, a powerful self-regulating system works hard to bring us back into balance again. Social scientists Richard Solomon and Joh Corbit called this reciprocal relationship between pleasure and pain the opponent-process theory.
Dopamine is used to measure the addictive potential of any of our behaviors or drugs for that matter. The more dopamine that is released into the brain’s reward pathway, the faster it is released will determine the additive value of the activity or drug!
Well did you know that exercise, running in our example here can change the brain? When we run physical exercise provides a jolt to our brain’s reward center, the area where we anticipate pleasure, feel motivated and maintain hope. Over time with sustained running the reward system is remodeled and this leads to higher levels of dopamine and more readily available dopamine receptors (McGonigal, 2020).
So let’s get more pleasure. Learn to walk or run, great ways to exercise. But do it correctly. Learn the mechanics of walking and running before you embark on distance, duration, or speed! Yes, you too can run free from injury by learning to use your body correctly!
Anna Lembke M.D. (2021) Dopamine Nation. Penguin Random House. New York.
Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. (2021) Five Surprising Ways Exercise Changes Your Brain. Retrieved September 13, 2022. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_surprising_ways_exercise_changes_your_brain#:~:text=When%20you%20exercise%2C%20you%20provide,and%20more%20available%20dopamine%20receptors.