How to increase endorphins without exercise

Cold winter days and long winter nights mean many people are probably hoping to increase their happiness levels naturally, and one way to do that is by releasing endorphins, which have a variety of mood-boosting benefits.

Endorphins are natural hormones in your body that give you that classic “runner’s high” feeling, he said dr Elizabeth C Gardner, Orthopedist, Sports Medicine Physician at Yale Medicine. “They block pain, they block stress.”

She added that studies even show that they reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and help you feel more optimistic and content. In other words, what’s not to love about endorphins?

We all know that exercise leads to the release of endorphins – particularly high-intensity interval training, continuous moderate training, group fitness classes and running – but other activities can also increase your endorphin levels.

Here experts reveal how you can increase your happiness hormones without lacing your running shoes.

massage and acupuncture

Both massage and acupuncture have been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins, particularly when certain trigger points are targeted, Gardner said.

When pain trigger points are hit, “it induces the sensation of pain [and] can lead to the release of endorphins,” she said, because “Endorphins are your natural pain reliever.”

These endorphins then lead to a feeling of relaxation during and after a massage or acupuncture.


“There was some studies who have shown that consistent meditation can help release endorphins,” Gardner said, but the exact reason for this is unknown.

“There’s a bit of a cause-and-effect Dilemma here, but consistent meditations seem to do the trick [cause] higher endorphins,” she said.

study too Show this meditation can be an effective way to manage stress, and that people who meditate have higher levels of serotonin — a natural chemical the body makes that helps improve mood.

In other words, if you meditate consistently, you’ll likely feel some mood-enhancing effects.


That laughter burst that happens during a funny TV show or while joking with friends can actually have more benefits than you think.

Corresponding Sharon Collisona Registered Dietitian and Clinical Nutrition Instructor at the University of Delaware, many studies have shown that “laughter physiologically stimulates the production of beta-endorphins”.

Again, the exact reason for this is up for debate, but Gardner noted that many people think the endorphin release comes from the deep breathing and full-body movement associated with laughter. “For me, it almost simulates exercise,” she said, which might be the reason for the endorphin release.

UV light

“Being outside on a nice day is associated with relaxing feelings,” Gardner said. “And part of that is that the UV light helps stimulate it the release of beta-endorphins.”

Additionally, the brain releases serotonin when the body is exposed to sunlight, which helps increase the happy hormones.

Playing music can increase your endorphin levels.

Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

Playing music can increase your endorphin levels.


Sex is often cited as a way to increase endorphins, Gardner noted. This could be due to the physical nature of the act and the exercise involved, since exercise is also an endorphin booster.

In addition, studies also show that having Sex can lower cortisol levelsthis is the body’s stress hormone.


Yoga technically works, but it’s probably not an exercise you associate with the endorphin release that usually accompanies long-distance runs and intense spinning classes.

But this notion is wrong. According to Collison, Yoga also increases your endorphins along with other feel-good hormones and lowers cortisol levels.


Playing music is another well-known way to release endorphins, Gardner said. As a matter of fact, a study from 2012 measured pain tolerance (since endorphins are a pain reliever) in performers and found that singing, dancing, and drumming all trigger the release of endorphins.

When listening to music, the data is more mixed. Some experts, like Gardner, say listening to music can also release endorphins, while others say more research is needed. One thing the studies agree, although? Listening to music can cause the release of dopamine, another chemical that improves your mood.

So, while listening to music doesn’t trigger an endorphin release, it does trigger another feel-good hormone—and when it comes down to it, you won’t even notice the difference; You will just know that you will feel a little better.

When it comes to food, experts have different opinions.

While many people assume that spicy foods and dark chocolate can release endorphins, Collison isn’t so sure.

She noted that some studies vaguely mention that foods can increase endorphin levels, but don’t go into detail about how they do it or which foods are best for an endorphin boost.

“Until today, there [are] no randomized controlled trials showing evidence that foods increase endorphins in the body,” Collison said. At this point, it’s probably best to get your endorphin boost elsewhere.

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