What Is a Runner’s High?

Going for a 2, 3, or 4 mile run might seem daunting, but once you get your legs moving, a sense of euphoria can set in, automatically relaxing the muscles and easing the pain. This is called a runner’s high. Keep reading to learn more about runner’s highs: what happens to your body, the benefits, and more.

What Is a Runner’s High?

A runner’s high is categorized as a brief, euphoric, relaxed state of mind and body. This extreme joy can happen after intense or lengthy exercise, which is why long-distance runners often describe experiencing its effects. If you’re used to jogging without experiencing a runner’s high, you may need to lengthen your mileage. But don’t push yourself to the point of injury or exhaustion. A runner’s high can be achievable, but it doesn’t happen to everyone.

What Happens to Your Body During a Runner’s High?

The most difficult part about running tends to be the beginning. Your breathing quickly becomes heavy, and your pulse accelerates because your heart rate needs to pump more oxygenated blood to your muscles and brain. As you continue to run, your body starts to release endorphins, which produce the short-lasting, euphoric state that people experience during or after exercise. Endorphins can also relieve muscle pain.

Another reason scientists and healthcare professionals believe people experience runner’s highs goes back to a different substance the body produces: endocannabinoids. These biochemical substances are described as having similar effects on the body as cannabis, but they’re made naturally.

Benefits of Running

Running on a regular basis can provide a range of health benefits, including:

  • Lifespan: According to research, running can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular-related diseases. This ultimately leads to improvement in health and longevity.
  • Mental Health: Things like depression and anxiety can lessen over time if you make running a part of your routine. If you run with a buddy or a group, it can also help improve your mood.
  • Weight Loss: Any form of activity can help with weight loss, but running exceeds those expectations, leading to a much more noticeable weight loss when paired with a healthy diet.
  • Cholesterol: In some people, running can lower bad cholesterol, leading them to not have to worry about meds to control cholesterol issues.
  • Sleep: There isn’t much research on this health benefit, but some evidence suggests that any form of daily physical exercise can contribute to better sleep patterns.

Tips for Achieving a Runner’s High

Get Outside

Running on a treadmill can get the job done, but it’s usually not as exciting. There’s nothing quite like taking in the outdoor scenes, watching the trees sway with the breeze, smelling the pureness of nature, and noticing the different animals and plants. If you run outside, you’ll likely enjoy the scenery and want to make it a more regular part of your routine.

Grab a Partner

Running with a partner can improve your ability to achieve a runner’s high. Why? Because you’ll be more motivated to keep up and cheer each other on. Joining a running group or club can help, too. Don’t be shy! Having someone by your side can help you hold yourself accountable.

Put Some Headphones In

Treat yourself to some motivating music, a podcast, or your new favorite audiobook. Oftentimes, runners can commit to longer distances if they have some sort of distraction in their headphones.

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