Adrenaline: What it is and how it affects the brain during and after sports

April 30

Adrenaline: What it is and how it affects the brain during and after sports

Have you ever felt that your chest fills with energy, you breathe fast, but deeply, your body begins to tremble, a chill runs through you from top to bottom and you find it difficult to compose yourself from a feeling of euphoria, happiness and fear at times, very intense ? If your answer is yes, then you've had an adrenaline rush from a book. The situations in which you may have felt this "adrenaline rush”Are very varied; It may have been triggered while you were facing a complicated situation, which generated insecurity or fear, and even seeing the free fall that awaited you on a roller coaster, in a sports competition, practicing an extreme sport or simply exceeding your limits by training.

In today's post we tell you everything you need to know to familiarize yourself with this versatile and peculiar hormone: adrenaline.

What is adrenaline?

Adrenaline is a hormone that our body uses when it needs to manage certain bodily processes. It circulates through the blood to reach different areas of the body and fulfill its task, which is summarized in helping us to be alert and activated in some situations. It also works as a neurotransmitter, which means that it acts as an intermediary in the communication between neurons, alerting them to situations where a quick reaction is required, both physically and mentally.

Adrenaline also prepares us to get the most out of our muscles when it is necessary to reach a certain speed, either because of the danger we run at a certain moment, or because we find ourselves in situations in which everything depends on us to win or lose. something. However, it is good to keep in mind that adrenaline does not block pain receptors, but it does help us focus the energy and resources of the body in the flight or fight, taking away from the sensation of pain.

Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, has an average activity of two minutes and its effects can last up to an hour. The name of the hormone comes from the Latin “ad y renes”, which means “next to the kidney”, which explains where adrenaline is produced; in the adrenal glands.

Effects of adrenaline on us

Adrenaline: What it is and how it affects the brain during and after sports

Advances in science and medicine have made it possible for adrenaline to be synthesized to create drugs, which are provided to patients in medical emergencies. It is supplied by injection, and has different uses; It can be used in cases of anaphylactic shock, in situations of cardiac arrest to stimulate the heart and blood circulation, or as a complement to anesthesia, as it lengthens its effect. This proves the importance and need for this hormone in our body, which, among others, has these effects on us:

What are the physical effects of adrenaline?

Adrenaline causes the pupils to dilate in order for our eyes to receive more light. Our visibility will be clearer and we will be more aware of what surrounds us.

It favors the increase in blood pressure: the blood concentrates on attending to the vital organs, and reduces its presence in the blood vessels closest to the skin, which contract.

It mobilizes energy from ATP and increases the metabolism of glycogen, which is how energy is stored. Glycogen breaks down and generates glucose, which is the energy our body needs, since it provides the necessary fuel to react to a stressful situation.

It increases the heart rate so that all the energy sources that we have can reach our body quickly.

What are the psychological effects of adrenaline?

The most obvious consequence of adrenaline is that it causes us a feeling of euphoria and happiness. For this reason, it is recommended to people who are living a complicated stage or suffer from depression or anxiety, to practice sports or activities that help to release this substance.

It increases our ability to quickly activate alertness.

It sets in motion the stimulation of the innate survival mechanisms and the defense mechanism.

Adrenaline enables rapid physical and mental reactions in stressful situations.

Increase self-esteem and self-worth. Overcoming a challenge or reaching a goal can be the incentives that lead us to want to achieve more. By improving our skills, we send a message to our brain communicating that we are capable of managing adverse situations.

What does adrenaline give us once the physical exercise is over?

Adrenaline: what it is and how it affects the brain during and after sports - paragliding

The influence of adrenaline in sport is powerful, because despite having different organic effects, it manifests itself subjectively depending on the intensity with which we live the activity and the emotion that it transmits to us, whether it be momentary, high-impact or prolonged and sustained. The human body is capable of using different types of hormones and preparing the organism at a physiological level depending on the situation it is in and the sport it is doing.

In sports such as running or cycling, which require great physical and psychological efforts for a long time, adrenaline tends to shoot up at specific times; for example, when a circuit is completed, a race is won, or an obstacle is overcome. In these endurance activities, you need to keep adrenaline under control, and in concrete events such as the starting shot in a sprint race, or overtaking a platoon of athletes and placing yourself first, allow the adrenaline to release.

On the other hand, through extreme or risk sports, a faster and longer discharge of adrenaline is sought. These explosive practices generate very strong sensations in short periods of time and activate different hormones that are responsible for generating pleasure and well-being.

Playing sports makes us feel alive. When we do adventure activities or that make us leave our comfort zone, we are daring to face specific situations that force the mind to focus fully on the now and on what the body is experiencing, since any mistake can become in an accident due to the risk involved in the activity. Although adventure sports in many occasions do not pose any real risk and everything is under control, the mind interprets that there is danger nearby and is activated.

The emotions experienced during the practice of an extreme sport or adventure are very intense: you feel fear, joy, surprise ...

What are the sports that generate the most adrenaline?

Base Jumping- Adrenaline: what it is and how it affects the brain during and after sports

Many activities without necessarily being sports make our body generate high doses of adrenaline; However, it is in extreme sports that more adrenaline is released from the adrenal glands. Among these, the most prone to offering adrenaline rush are:

Skydiving: It is no surprise to learn that jumping from a plane and plunging into the void for more than a minute until the parachute opens and you land on dry land is a sport that brings a constant sense of freedom and excitement; effects of adrenaline rush.

Base jump: This sport is a first cousin of skydiving, varying the starting point; Base jumping involves jumping from a skyscraper or mountain rather than from an airplane. You can simply do a jump and land, or put on a special suit and fly like a bird a few meters from the mountain. This is considered the most dangerous extreme sport due to the proximity to the ground with which it is flown and to the high speed that is reached. Of course, the adrenaline is more than assured.

Alpinism: The fact of going up the mountain along marked trails is by no means the greatest trigger for the release of adrenaline, but overcoming the difficulties that can be encountered along the way caused by the natural environment, ungovernable and unpredictable at times, or looking around you when you have reached the top and observing how tiny everything seems from above and how far away the beginning of the route is are the great activators of this hormone.

Heliskiing: This sport consists of jumping from a helicopter that is placed right at the beginning of the descent of a ski slope. The helicopter more or less functions as a chairlift or trailer, with the difference that it includes the risk of falling in the jump, of suffering a blow when falling over steep areas or of the helicopter causing avalanches caused by air currents that generate. These are the situations that trigger adrenaline in the body.

Bungee Jumping: Probably the activity that releases the most adrenaline. Its duration is extremely short, but during the leap, the discharge of the hormone is very high.

Slackline: To practice this sport you need to hold a tape or slackline at two separate points and walk on it, going from one end to the other without losing your balance. The higher the rope and the riskier the road, the greater the adrenaline rush.

What are the downsides of adrenaline?

Slackline Adrenaline - What is it and how does it affect the brain during and after sports

Although adrenaline has tremendously positive effects on our mind and body and makes us feel really good, an abuse in the search and achievement of adrenaline can also be accompanied by some mental disadvantages, such as the development of diseases, among which we highlight chronic stress, headaches or anxiety. In addition to physical conditions such as hypertension, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, temporary vision problems, and even heart problems.

Another risk of adrenaline is getting addicted to it. The sensation of pleasure that is generated when this hormone is secreted can lead to Pontius Syndrome, through which the perception of danger is completely distorted. Those who suffer from this syndrome, live activities of great risk as normal, putting their life in danger.

"Your body is in survival mode, and 99,9% of the time, you're not really in a life or death situation," explains Graham Betchart, a mental skills coach. Employees of the venture capital firm True Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank say that “You may be having a conversation with someone you work with, and suddenly, you are in this very limited and primal state of thought. You're basically dealing with old instincts. "

Adrenaline, as you have seen, is a tool that can save our lives at times, that is used in life or death situations, that makes us feel alive, happy and unstoppable, but that we have to know how to use. As in the rest of our life, everything in excess is bad. We must know our limits and enjoy as much as we can until we reach them. So, if you've been feeling a bit stressed lately or need to experience full mental freedom, you know how to get your adrenaline pumping!


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