Logistics first, then a little bit about oxytocin…

Logistics-wise, we’re meeting today at 6:15 at the playground in Glenwood Park. The googlemaps street address is 41 Faith Street SE, Atlanta…it’s down the street from where we were last Tuesday.

As for oxytocin, a recent study out of the Netherlands has something new to say about this hot mama of hormones, this magic mike of molecules. The so-called cuddle chemical, released by the hypothalamus region of your brain when you have sex, give birth, and dance (hopefully not all at the same time), has been credited with everything from promoting trust and generosity to making martial arguments more civilized to relieving alcohol withdrawal to making pain less painful to treating clinical depression to helping highly anxious mice chill out and run mazes faster.   No doubt – oxytocin is the prom queen  and queen bee rolled up in one.

(Do not confuse oxytocin with OxyContin, the addictive pain medication that gets about 46,000 peoples not named Rush Limbaugh  arrested every year. The person named Rush Limbaugh paid $30,000 and got his charges dropped.)

Crankyman science blogger Ed Yong points out that our little chemical friend may also be a factor in not-so-nice things like xenophobia, envy, and – in some people – thinking badly of your mother.

But let’s leave these dark little details aside for the time being and focus on the lovelier parts of the love hormone.

The new study Oxytocin and the Biopsychology of Performance in Team Sports found that our favorite neuropeptide is “involved in the shaping of important team processes in sport such as trust, generosity, altruism, cohesion, cooperation, and social motivation.” (Also, gloating. But meh, what’s a little gloating in that ocean of positivity?) That in itself is not so interesting – it’s just applying what scientists already know about oxytocin to the environment of sports.

But what is interesting is a suggestion in the study that the environment of sports may enhance the production of oxytocin. They’ve not figured out a way to measure it with blood tests, but the clipboard toting scientists standing on the sidelines think that all the high-fives and butt slapping probably creates a flood of oxytocin. They call it emotional contagion.  

Again, this is not so surprising. But it’s still kind of remarkable, don’t you think? Going for a jog by yourself will increase your oxytocin, but running around a field with your team to put a soccer ball into a goal boosts your oxytocin even more. Lots more, probably. Especially if you do a lot of butt slapping and flinging up of your arms in victory whenever you score a goal.

The flood of oxytocin, in turn, makes you calmer, braver, happier, more empathic, and sexier.

This is why at queerfit, we will now engage in as much high-fiving and butt-slapping and flinging our arms up in victory as possible. Come join us as we engage in our twice-weekly, emotional contagion enhanced production of cysteine-tyrosine-isoleucine-glutamine-asparagine-cysteine-proline-leucine-glycine-amine, aka oxytocin.   Today at Glenwood Park at 6:15, Saturday at our usual spot just north of the Inman Park/Renoldstown MARTA station at 10:00.  See y’all soon with your fine oxytocinating selves!