Health and Fitness

What is the high that runners claim they experience during long runs?

Most runners have at some stage experienced what's become known as the ‘Runners High‘. This feeling is a sensation of well-being and euphoria that athletes might experience when running which helps them really feel a lot more peaceful as well as calmer when on a run. Athletes suggest that it is related to decreased stress and anxiety, a greater sense of calm as well as a reduced ability to feel pain. It's not something which is particularly as a result of running and might occur with just about any cardiovascular exercise including bicycling or going swimming. There exists, however, a large amount of variability between runners in the way they experience this and not all athletes go through it or go through it on every run. Those athletes that have been running for a longer time usually experience it more often and it's commonly mainly with the lengthier runs. Running has the benefit of longer term psychological health improvements as do other kinds of regular aerobic fitness exercise and this is often in connection with the experience of this runners high.

The existence of that runners high may well be an evolutionary factor. The speculation would suggest that when the body generate chemicals to reduce the pain sensation that accompanies elevated physical activity when that physical activity has been required for looking for food and fleeing from potential predators, then this would likely raise a person’s chances of surviving. This example of the modern-day runners high which makes running more satisfying may have been something that developed to provide for as a reward which kept early human beings hunting wildlife and accumulating food for their survival.

The physiology behind what might result in the runners high isn't that clear. There are a number of chemical substances which can be higher when exercising that could account for the mechanism. The most popular opinion is that this was that its resulting from elevated release of endorphins that act in a similar fashion to morphine, however there's not as much support for this hypothesis now as these hormones don't pass the blood-brain barrier to have an effect in the mind. This hormone still will have an effect on the muscular tissues to modulate pain feelings. More recent research has implied the physiology can be via the elevated release of chemical compounds known as endocannabinoids that are similar to cannabis or marijuana which might lessen pain and also enhance feelings. In contrast to the endorphins, endocannabinoids can cross the blood-brain barrier. There does exist some recent interest in the function of the hormone, leptin, which controls the feelings of being hungry. Research shows that mice with less leptin would run significantly further than mice that have normal levels. The authors of that research propose that this might be for the reason that mice who have a lot less leptin ended up more likely to go through the sensation of the ‘runners high’. The researchers linked this finding to the evolutionary theory by advocating that the drop in leptin levels improves motivation for physical exercise using the pay back of the ‘runners high’ as a method to raise the incentive for the hunt for foods in order to survive.

The best way to have a runners high may be to exercise more reguarily and go beyond an hour or so every day. It does come with running these longer distances.