The majority of runners have at some time experienced what has become known as the ‘Runners High‘. This ‘high’ is a sense of well-being and euphoria that athletes may experience whenever running which helps them really feel a lot more relaxed and also calmer when out on a run. Runners mention that it is linked to reduced stress and anxiety, an elevated sensation of calm as well as a reduced capability to experience discomfort. It’s not a thing that is mainly due to running and will happen with any aerobic exercise including cycling or swimming. There is, nevertheless, a large amount of variability between runners in how they experience this but not all athletes go through it or go through it with every single run. Those athletes that have been running for longer have a tendency to experience it more often and it’s commonly mainly with the lengthier runs. Running can also have longer term mental health benefits as do other kinds of regular aerobic fitness exercise which is often associated with the experience with the runners high.
The existence of this runners high might be an evolutionary thing. The idea indicates that if our bodies generate chemical compounds to relieve the discomfort that comes with increased physical exercise when that physical activity has been vital for hunting for food and fleeing from predators, then this would most likely maximize an individuals probability of survival. This experience with the modern-day runners high that makes running more gratifying might have been a thing that developed to serve as a incentive that kept early human beings hunting wildlife and also accumulating food for their survival.
The actual physiology behind what might result in the runners high is certainly not straightforward. There are a variety of chemical substances which can be higher during exercise that would be the cause of the mechanism. The favourite thinking is that this was that its due to elevated release of endorphins which work in a similar fashion to morphine, however there isn’t as much support for this hypothesis now as endorphins do not pass the blood-brain barrier to have an effect in the mind. Endorphins still will have an effect on the muscles to modulate pain feelings. More recent studies have proposed the mechanism can be through the elevated discharge of substances called endocannabinoids which are similar to cannabis or marijuana which could lessen pain and enhance mood. Unlike the endorphins, endocannabinoids will pass the blood-brain barrier. There is a bit of recent interest in the role of the hormone, leptin, which controls the feelings of food cravings. Research shows that mice having a lot less leptin will run considerably further than mice with average levels. The authors of that research recommend that this might be for the reason that mice which may have reduced leptin ended up more prone to feel the experience of the ‘runners high’. The researchers associated this finding to the evolutionary theory by implying that the drop in leptin levels improves enthusiasm for physical exercise via the benefit from the ‘runners high’ as a means to raise the inspiration for the search for food to survive.
The simplest way to experience a runners high may be to exercise more often and run over one hour a day. The ‘high’ should come with running these longer distances.
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- Hesse, Josiah (Author)
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