Exercise is a tried-and-true way to boost muscle mass, improve cardiovascular health and overall physical health. Not only does it benefit our exterior, it’s a huge help to our mental health, too.

The same stress-relieving euphoria runners experience, runner’s high, is accessible to anyone leading an active lifestyle. Endorphins are our body’s built-in stress ball.

“The release of endorphins, makes your body and mind feel better,” Dr. Amira Ayad said. Ayad is a family care physician and the medical director of wellness at Adventist Health Bakersfield.

Ayad said this is because endorphins are like naturally occurring opioids, eliciting the same effect on our brain receptors, but not hurting us because our bodies make them.

“Even several hours after exercising, your endorphin levels are still up,” she said.

The more you exercise and the more active you are, the more endorphins your body pumps out. Yet, Ayad said you don’t have to constantly be exercising to lead an active lifestyle rich with endorphin flow.

“If you know you will fall out of routine, don’t get the gym membership,” Ayad said.

Integrating activity into your daily routine, like taking the stairs or parking farther away from your destination so you walk farther, is more realistic and helps maintain that mental clarity.

Taking more steps daily will realistically generate more endorphins than going once or twice a month to the gym. Ayad said to start small then maybe add some weights and core workouts.

“Physically and mentally, you will start to feel encouraged to be active,” Ayad said.