Hand bikes were originally designed to help people with limited mobility get exercise, but anyone can use them. These exercise tools offer fairly low-impact exercise, which means that it can take longer for endorphins to be released than with a more intense routine such as running. However, with an intense routine of rapid pedaling that lasts for at least 30 minutes, you increase your odds of an endorphin rush.
How Endorphins Are Released
Your muscles store glycogen, a form of glucose that helps you gain rapid access to energy. When you exercise long and hard enough to deplete these glycogen stores, your body releases endorphins, according to NBC News. Endorphins are brain chemicals that the body releases in response to pain or stress. The amount of time it takes for your body to release endorphins varies depending upon the intensity of your exercise routine as well as the amount of glycogen you currently have stored. Eating high-carbohydrate foods can increase your glycogen stores, increasing the amount of time it takes to experience an endorphin rush.
Endorphins and Hand Bikes
Because hand bikes primarily work your upper body, you’ll typically have to spend more time on a hand bike to experience an endorphin rush than you would if you performed a full-body exercise such as running or jumping rope. Routines that leave you winded and sweaty are more likely to deplete your glycogen stores, so focus on longer and more intense workouts, and consider combining a hand bike routine with another aerobic exercise. Endorphins can also be released in response to pain or stress, so if your muscles are injured you may release endorphins sooner — although you shouldn’t do intense exercise if you have an injury. There’s no specific guideline for how long it takes for endorphins to be released, but you typically have to engage in extended, intense exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes.
Effects of Endorphins
Endorphins are responsible for the sensation often called a “runner’s high,” which can leave you feeling euphoric and energetic, making it easier to pedal for a few more minutes. If you’re using a hand bike because of decreased mobility, though, avoid pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion and follow your doctor’s exercise recommendations instead. Your self-esteem may experience a temporary boost, and you’ll likely feel less stressed and happier. Over time, the consistent release of endorphins through exercise can help reduce the risk of depression and improve symptoms of anxiety and other negative emotions. Because endorphins are often released in response to pain, you may not notice muscle aches or injuries after an intense hand bike session.
Endorphins have powerful analgesic properties, which means they can help reduce the physical pain and exhaustion that comes with intense exercise on a hand bike. This pain-relieving effect may help you have more energy to push through the end of your routine. You might also not notice pain and injuries, so it’s particularly important to adopt proper form. Avoid hunching over the bike or tightly gripping its handles. Instead, keep your spine straight and look straight ahead while pedaling at a steady pace. Breathe slowly and deliberately and carefully monitor your body for injuries after an endorphin rush.
- WebMD: Exercise and Depression
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise and Stress — Get Moving to Manage Stress
- Bryn Mawr College: The Effects of Exercise on the Brain
- ScienceDaily: Glycogen
- NBC News: ‘Runner’s High’ Can Turn Into a Real Addiction
- Marathon Guide: Nutrition for Endurance Athletes