Runner’s high, is it real? In short, yes, at least according to the President of the American Society for Exercise Physiologists, Jesse Pittsley. According to Pittsley, as a runner you can experience a feeling of being invincible and euphoric and note a reduction in awareness regarding anything from time to pain. Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that yes, in fact, runner’s high is real. Read on to learn more about this desirable high before you strap on your best pair of running shoes and favorite fitness apparel to go for your next run:
It Begins in The Brain
The origin of runner’s high was likely your ancestor’s response to running while hunting food. In other words, because your ancestors had to chase down their food requiring an extra boost of stamina, the brain was created to respond to this type of exertion by releasing powerful chemicals. Although you no longer have to run down your food for your next meal, you can achieve the same effect by running as a form of exercise. The natural high you get comes from endorphins which are considered nature’s own home-made opiates. Endorphins have been shown to perform very similarly to morphine.
German Research Proved Runner’s High Existence
In 2008, German researchers set out to study the existence of runner’s high. They used brain scans to evaluate participating runners. Researchers found scientific evidence that subjects’ limbic and prefrontal regions produced an extraordinary amount of endorphins after they completed a two-hour long run.
Other Theories & Neurotransmitters
While the German researchers proved running produced elevated endorphin levels in test subjects, there are other scientists who believe the feeling of euphoria runner’s experience comes from more than just endorphins. For example, studies have shown that other types of neurotransmitters might also be a factor in runner’s high. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine secretion are all released in higher concentrations during exercise and affect a person’s mood. Still, other experts believe a runner’s elevated temperature during exercise could indirectly improve a person’s mood. Regardless of the actual cause, runner’s high is real to be sure.
It’s Not a One & Done Impact
The actual feelings of euphoria might end shortly after running, but you can rest assured that the runner’s high you enjoy will positively enhance your overall mood. Cedric Bryant, who is the chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, says that anyone who makes running a habit will likely have less anxiety, less depression, and enjoy better moods overall due to the cumulative effect of regular exercise.
Don’t Worry if You Haven’t Experienced it Just Yet
Perhaps you just bought a brand new pair of running shoes and some new workout clothes and are ready to begin your journey as a runner. Don’t expect to achieve the desirable “runner’s high” instantaneously. Timothy Miller, who is an orthopedic surgeon at the Ohio State University and a sports medicine specialist, says it's rare to experience this euphoric high when you are new to running. In reality, you likely won’t experience a runner’s high until you have been running consistently for at least a few weeks or more. Keep working towards achieving that high, though as it will give you the extra boost you desire and keep you focused on your goals.
The information outlined above considers the science behind runner’s high. Turns out, according to research, it is a real thing, so go ahead and buy the women's workout apparel you have been wanting and begin working towards your running goals!