Why endorphins (and exercise) make you happy

Story highlights

  • When your body comes under stress or experiences pain, neurochemicals called endorphins are produced in the brain
  • Endorphins were discovered 40 years ago
  • Endorphins are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort

If you've ever taken out a bad day at the office on the nearest treadmill, you know that working up a good sweat can easily turn your day around. And by now you've probably heard that endorphins are the magic bullet behind that post-workout bliss. People love the feeling so much that "endorphin junkie" has even become synonymous with someone who's constantly chasing that exercise high. But while endorphins may get all the credit for your post-run buzz, there's actually a lot more going on behind the scenes. Here's what you need to know about endorphins — and why you might not be an endorphin junkie after all.