A runner’s high is a brief sense of relaxing euphoria experienced after completing a run.
A runner’s high is a brief period of relaxing feeling and euphoria (intense happiness) that can last anywhere from a few minutes to hours. However, it depends on several biological elements and the intensity and duration of your physical activity.
- A runner’s high is a short-lasting experience of euphoria following running or any other exercise.
- It helps you improve your performance during long periods of running or intense exercise.
What is a runner’s high?
A runner’s high is a brief sense of relaxing euphoria experienced after completing a run. The experience may leave you feeling calmer and more relaxed than you might expect following a high-intensity workout. For example, rather than feeling tired and hurting by the end of a run, a runner’s high might leave you feeling energetic and rejuvenated.
- Runner’s high is a coping mechanism for the physical stress your body experiences during running or intense exercises.
- Achieving a runner’s high is uncommon, you may need to run for at least a few miles to experience it.
- Some people may experience it with a shorter run, and others may not experience it at all.
When does a runner’s high occur?
Despite its name, a runner’s high can occur in other sports as well. A runner’s high was initially recognized during half-marathons and full marathons. Many people who experienced runner’s high described the feeling as a happy mood achieved after running a particular distance.
Athletes, however, may acquire the same feelings through any other sort of exercise that can be performed continuously for at least 45 minutes to an hour at a time. Rowing, cycling, soccer, wrestling, swimming, skiing, surfing, and several workouts can provide a similar sensation, and it feels like you are operating to your full ability.
What are the effects of runner’s high on the body?
Although runner’s high is most recognized for its short-term euphoric effects because of running or physical exercise, certain long-term benefits have been proven to continue from session to session. A runner’s high shows a great impact on mood and general health and well-being. It gives a strong sense of contentment, fulfillment, and achievement.
It is no secret that regular physical activity has several physical and psychological health benefits.
The physical benefits include:
- Boosts circulation
- Improves self-esteem
- Lowers blood cholesterol and body fat
- Increases mobility and flexibility
- Boosts immune system
- Supports weight loss
The most noticeable psychological effects include:
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced sadness
- Improved mood
- Pain alleviation
- Overall well-being
What is the science behind a runner’s high?
Running can do more to improve your mood than just relieving stress. Running produces endorphins or feel-good hormones.
- Endorphins can be released by several workouts and are feel-good chemicals because they are responsible for feelings of happiness and pleasure.
- They may even be used as a natural pain reliever, which is ideal for long-distance runners and those who participate in strenuous runs.
Endorphins were first thought to be the primary source of runner’s high. These neurotransmitters are known to help alleviate muscular discomfort, which is one of the side effects of a runner’s high. However, newer research indicates that they may not be the cause.
- Scientists now believe that the euphoria associated with the runner’s high is caused by a mechanism in the body called the endocannabinoid system.
- Endocannabinoids are substances produced by your endocannabinoid system.
- Your body begins to feel more relaxed or even euphoric when they circulate through your body.
- Exercise raises your body’s endocannabinoid level.
Endorphins and endocannabinoids produce similar sensations, but the main difference is how far they can circulate in the body. Endorphins cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier. Endocannabinoids, however, can do so. Endocannabinoids can reach the brain but endorphins cannot.
There could be a lot of compounds, such as endorphins and endocannabinoids, that have yet to be discovered.
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Medically Reviewed on 5/20/2022
Boynton E. What Is a Runner’s High — and How Can You Get One? UW Medicine. https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/body/exercise/runners-high
Willett S. Runner’s High: https://www.lehigh.edu/~dmd1/sarah.html
Johns Hopkins Medicine. The Truth Behind ‘Runner’s High’ and Other Mental Benefits of Running: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-truth-behind-runners-high-and-other-mental-benefits-of-running