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August 15, 2016. This is not about doping or gender-testing at the Olympics. No, this could be about … you.

Today’s quiz question: What do sex, drugs and exercise have in common? Wait, wait … don’t tell me.

Time’s up.

Bliss. Not ignorance, but lack of self-awareness. Forgetting about your conscious self. And your self-conscious self. And feeling no pain.

That’s the answer. According to a couple of very credible studies. Scientific American published The Neurobiolgy of Bliss, a summary of years of research that measured brain activity during sex, meditation and hypnotic rituals. According to the article, all of these “dissolve the sense of physical boundary” between us and what’s outside us. “Bliss shares the diminution of self-awareness, alterations in bodily perception and decreased sense of pain“.

Which made me think about another study, one that considered the similarities between the “runner’s high” and a drug high. Endocannabinoids and exercise in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that it’s not an “endorphin high” that distance runners feel – it’s an “endocannabinoid high”. Right. Cannabinoids – like the active ingredient in marijuana – that are produced by our bodies when we have certain stimuli. Like running marathons, it turns out.

The runner’s high has been described subjectively as pure happiness, elation, a feeling of unity with one’s self and/or nature, endless peacefulness, inner harmony, boundless energy, and a reduction in pain sensation. These subjective descriptions are similar to the claims of distorted perception, atypical thought patterns, diminished awareness of one’s surroundings, and intensified introspective understanding of one’s sense of identity and emotional status made by people who describe drug or trance states.”

I’m not writing a sex advice or drug review column. I’m just trying to give you a lot of good reasons and Ways to exercise. Especially with the last few weeks of summer and the long holiday weekend coming up here in the States. Plenty of time to start walking a lot more. Or even jogging. I can tell you from personal experience it doesn’t take a marathon. My 3-mile morning run gives me that feeling of “boundless energy” all day. And I feel no pain. I can get the same thing from a very long walk, a hike like this hike in Glacier National Park.

It’s a pain-killer, not a pain.
Find the right kind of exercise. It feels great while you’re doing it. And right after. And forever after, if you do it regularly.

OK, maybe not for the first few minutes. Those minutes when your personal trainer’s telling you “no pain, no gain”. But once you’re warmed up and in a groove, everything else is gone. You’re moving, you’re breathing, you’re sweating. That’s it for self-awareness. You’re all body. No mind.

For thirty minutes a day, you do something that has nothing to do with everything else you do all day. You disconnect from all your ruts and habits and come back refreshed.

If you’re not getting enough – or any – exercise, maybe this’ll get you going. And if you’re not getting enough of something else, well, you can always exercise some more.

Every Thing Is Everything
Although previous studies have found enhanced mood for up to an hour after exercise, this study found benefits for up to 12 hours following activity, compared to the resting group…

Test subjects performed exercise at 60 percent of aerobic capacity, indicating that moderate-intensity exercise – like walking or light cycling – is enough to boost mood.”
Boost Your Mood at Least Half the Day with Physical Activity”, American College of Sports Medicine

In The Roadmap to 100: The Breakthrough Science of Living a Long and Healthy Life, Dr. Walter Bortz describes the participants in a 4-hour per week exercise program: “The MRI results were stunning. In parts of each subject’s brain, the blood volume [and its oxygen] had nearly doubled after a mere 12 weeks on the exercise regimen …

Mental performance in the human body can be improved by “feeding” the brain extra oxygen … A decrease in the oxygen supply to the brain creates conditions like tiredness, depression, irritability, poor judgment and a variety of health problems. Increasing the oxygen supply to the brain and nervous system can remedy these conditions.”

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