Elle Woods had some serious words of wisdom in Legally Blonde: “I just don’t think that Brooke could’ve done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” So what exactly are endorphins and how do we produce them? Endorphins are natural “opiates,” meaning they can relieve pain or induce sleep. Generally, they are released within you when your body is experiencing excitment or pain. In fact, it is known as our natural pain reliever.

To get those endorphins stimulated try these 11 boosters:

  1. Light a vanilla scented candle: In a study conducted by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, patients undergoing MRIs who breathed vanilla-scented air reported 63 percent less anxiety than those who breathed unscented air. (Reader’s Digest)
  2. Add some chili peppers to your plate.
  3. Eat a piece of chocolate: Remember, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the better.  Dark chocolate actually contains the same chemical we secrete when we are in love, phenylethylamine. But, know your limits and don’t overindulge! According to the University of Exeter, a brisk walk around 15 minutes curbed the cravings in “chocoholics,” even in “tempting situations.” (Reader’s Digest)
  4. Go see an acupuncturist: Aimed at your body’s pressure points, acupuncture is a great way to release built up tension and endorphins. 
  5. Spend some time in the sun…safely:  Researchers at Wake Forest University Medical Center found that overexposure to ultraviolet light can also cause a release of endorphins (ivillage). This may actually by the cause of tanning “addiction.” But, it’s best if you don’t stay in the sun too long and always wear your sunscreen! 
  6. Eat some protein.
  7. Do some heavy weight training or anaerobic exercise: According to How Stuff Works, “researchers have found that light-to-moderate weight training or cardiovascular exercise doesn’t produce endorphins, only heavy weights or training that incorporates sprinting or other anaerobic exertion.” As your body crosses into an anaerobic state, it is operating with an insufficient amount of oxygen. Your muscles become unsatisfied and your body starts to let you know–this is what we call a “runner’s high.”
  8. Laugh.
  9. Have a drink: Alcohol has recently been shown to release endorphins, but it’s essential to practice this in moderation. A study published in the Science Translational Medicine journal found that these are the same endorphins released when laughing and exercising: pleasure and reward (The Age). Check out Skinny Drinks for some lower calorie drink options.
  10. Push your comfort zone.
  11. Watch a scary movie: Fear actually makes the body think it has to reduce pain: hence the rush. It’s actually our natural pain reliever kicking into gear! (ThirdAge)