The Runner’s High: Get “Lifted” From Exercising

By: Madison Kraus | madison.kraus@activecities.com

You’ve heard it before, and no, it’s not a myth. You can get “high” from exercising. Studies show that the “runner’s high” can be achieved in many different ways. No need to run a marathon to send your head spinning into euphoric bliss. Being active – in any way really – can give you those happy, stress free feelings.

So, what is the runner’s high? Actually, it’s science. Your heart rate goes up, blood starts pumping, and the body begins to release a stream of endorphins. Neurotransmitters react to these natural chemicals the same way they would to painkillers, altering your perception of pain. Dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline are able to regulate signals from your spinal cord, dispensing sensations of pleasure rather than discomfort; you don’t even need to kill yourself with a crazy workout to reap the benefits of this natural chemical reaction.

However, it isn’t possible unless you’re engaged in a moderate to high-intensity activity. Yes, you can burn calories and feel good doing housework or gardening. But, if you want a real treat, challenge yourself to achieve the true runner’s high. The high is possible sometime after achieving your maximum heart rate and before your body reaches fatigue. Although running is one of the most common ways to achieve the high, it can be attained through other aerobic activities such as cycling, swimming, rowing, and circuit training.

And even if a full-blown runner’s high isn’t in the cards for you, endorphins are always part of the equation. Any movement – cleaning, walking, skating, yoga, whatever – will have you feeling pretty good, too. Even in small doses, endorphins can have a dramatic impact on your sleep, brainpower, memory, self-confidence, and stress.

Exercise will do wonders in more ways than one. So get out there, be active and “get high”!